LIVEBLOG: Protests continue after Netanyahu freezes judicial reform


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Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial overhaul plan outside the parliament in Jerusalem, Israel.
AP Photo/Mahmoud IlleanIsraelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial overhaul plan outside the parliament in Jerusalem, Israel.

Follow the developments as furious Israelis take to the streets in response to Netanyahu firing his defense minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant Sunday over his opposition to proposed judicial reforms, bringing Israelis out into the streets in their tens of thousands during the night.

The Histadrut Jewish labor federation announced a general strike on Monday, with universities throughout the country also joining in.

Protesters breached barriers set up by police to prevent them from coming close to the prime minister's residence on Gaza Street in Jerusalem, while in Tel Aviv tens of thousands blocked the major Ayalon highway.

Police deployed water cannons against the spontaneous demonstrators in Jerusalem, with tear gas reportedly used on the main highway connecting Tel Aviv with Jerusalem as protesters stopped traffic.

These demonstrations manifested in cities throughout the country. Into the early hours of Monday, placing doubt in the coalition's ability to pass the contentious measures.

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Our Natasha Kirtchuk reports from Ben Gurion Airport after it reopens:

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Police declare Jerusalem roads open after day of tense protests

Police declared all main roads opened in Jerusalem after some 10,000 pro-reform demonstrators collected in the city, responding to anti-reform protests that reached around 20 times that number throughout the day.

Far-right groups joined the demonstrators, with Arab taxi driver assaulted while driving past in his car.

Police Spokesperson
Police SpokespersonTaxi damaged by far-right protesters in Jerusalem, Israel

In Tel Aviv, police used stun grenades as well as mounted troops and water cannons, clearing off the main Ayalon highway in the city.

Ben-Gvir tells supporters he threatened to leave coalition over postponement

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir told pro-reform protesters in Jerusalem he threatened to leave the coalition over a delay in voting for the judicial reform, but decided to stay to not give the opposition the satisfaction of seeing the government fall. 

Gantz selects coalition partner Gideon Saar for delegation to president's negotiation

National Unity leader Benny Gantz selected coalition partner Gideon Saar and three other lawmakers for his delegation to discuss the judicial reform under the auspices of President Herzog.

Police say 30 arrested in Tel Aviv protest over day

Mounted officers and water cannons worked to open up Tel Aviv's main highway, the Ayalon, using also stun grenades to disperse protesters that arrived over the day.

Thirty protesters were arrested over the course of the day, according to police.

Protests continued in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities and towns in the country. Footage of pro-reform demonstrations were also seen, after a day dominated by mass anti-reform protests.

Gantz and Netanyahu speak 

Benny Gantz spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the stoppage of the legislation. During the conversation Gantz called on Netanyahu to keep Defense Minister Yoav Galant in his position, which he claimed is essential for national security and "calming the spirits at this time."

President speaks with Netanyahu, opposition heads

Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke with Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and National Unity lawmaker Benny Gantz, welcoming a launch of negotiations over the controversial judicial reforms.

Protests continue in Tel Aviv

Hanna Papiachvilli/i24NEWS
Hanna Papiachvilli/i24NEWSProtests in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Anti-reform protests organizers plan to continue demonstrations

Dr. Shikma Bressler, one of the main leaders of the protest movement, following the prime minister's announcement:

“The statements of the Prime Minister and his extremist partners are an admission of their intention to bring the dictatorship laws back to the table in the next parliamentary session, harming the economy and the security of the country. 

"As long as the legislation continues and is not shelved, we will be on the streets. 

"This is just an attempt to weaken the protests in order to enact Netanyahu’s dictatorship.

Now is not the time to reduce the pressure, but to increase it.”

White House welcomes suspension of the bill

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American Jewish Organizations welcomes Israeli Government's Suspension of Judicial Overhaul Legislation

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Federations of North America issued the following statement:

“We welcome the Israeli government’s suspension of legislative consideration of judicial reform measures.

"The last three months have been painful to watch and yet a textbook case of democracy in action. We respect the political leaders, business executives, community activists, cultural figures, and ordinary Israelis who took to the streets, exercising their love of country, and their passion for democracy.

As a next step, we encourage all Knesset factions, coalition and opposition alike, to use this time to build a consensus that includes the broad support of Israeli civil society."

Ben Gurion Airport has returned to normal operations

Per airport Spokesperson: 

 70 flights departed 

 27 flights delayed

 74 flights were cancelled (33 arrivals / 41 departures)

Lapid responds to Netanyahu's decision to postpone judicial reform legislation

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid responded to Netanyahu's declaration, stating that "if the legislation is indeed stopped, a real and complete stop, we are willing to go to the President of the State for talks."

"This is the biggest crisis in the history of the country," he added. "We have a responsibility to solve it together, so that we can live here together."

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Israeli President Herzog welcomes halting of judicial reform 

"Stopping the legislation is the right thing. This is the time to start an honest, serious and responsible conversation that will urgently calm the spirits and lower the flames.

I call on everyone to show responsibility. Demonstration and protest - from any side - yes. Violence - no way. If one side wins, the country loses. We must be preserved as one people and as one state - Jewish and democratic.

 For the sake of our unity and for the future of our sons and daughters - we need to start talking here and now. The President's House, the abode of the people, is open to be a space for discussions and the formation of agreements as broad as possible, with the aim of rescuing our beloved State of Israel from the deep crisis we are in. "And you gave peace to the land, and everlasting joy to its inhabitants."

Histadrut Labor Union announces end to general strike

Following the statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Histadrut Labor Union and local municipal authorities say that the strike will end tomorrow, while protest organizers say they will continue demonstrating against the postponed legislation.

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Netanyahu announces postponement of the judicial reform legislation

The prime minister has announced the postponement of the 2nd and 3rd readings and votes on the proposed Knesset bill.

"I am taking a break for dialogue. I am giving it a real opportunity for real dialogue to reach a wide agreement.

I have decided to pause the advancement of the law in this Knesset session in order to give time for negotiations and agreement."

Read more on Netanyahu's speech HERE.

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U.S. expresses "deep concern" over events in Israel

NSC spokesperson John Kirby said today that the Biden Administration is not concerned that the situation in Israel will deteriorate into civil war, but the U.S, is concerned about the judicial reform and situation it has led to.

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Netanyahu to speak within the hour

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a statement to the media at 8:05 PM Israel time according to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office

Thousands stranded at Ben Gurion Airport

Travelers at Israel's largest airport are feeling the affect of the staff's strike as departures out of Tel Aviv remain suspended.

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Ben-Gvir's party confirms postponement of reforms

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir's Jewish Power Party have said in a statement that the judicial reform legislation will be postponed until the summer.

Ben-Gvir in a statement: "I agreed to remove the veto for the postponement of the legislation, in exchange for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment that the legislation will be brought to the Knesset for approval in the next session, if no agreements are reached during the recess."

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