Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would delay a controversial overhaul of the country’s justice system until after the Knesset’s Passover break.
“Out of a sense of national responsibility, out of a will to prevent a rupture among our people, I have decided to pause the second and third readings of the bill,” he told the legislature on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, far-right coalition partner and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said in a statement that he had 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.”
The decision to delay the legislation comes after months of protests, including a major nationwide strike on Monday after Netanyahu fired his defense minister for opposing the plans.
Gvir had previously threatened to resign in the legislation was paused.
Under the new laws proposed by Israel’s most right-wing government in its history, parliament could override the Supreme Court, making it harder to remove political leaders from office — including Netanyahu, who faces an ongoing trial for corruption.
It has prompted nearly three months of angry protests from across Israel including from the country’s powerful military.
On Sunday Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant triggered fresh nationwide protests. Thousands have turned up outside the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, and Israeli media reported that the crowd consists of people across the political and religious spectrum.
Labor unions launched a general strike on Monday, and flights were suspended from Ben Gurion Airport.
Israelis have been demonstrating since January against Netanyahu’s controversial court overhaul, which is widely viewed as a threat to the country’s democracy.
The proposed law would give Israel’s government more power over the judicial system, and would give the Knesset power to veto decisions made by the Supreme Court. Netanyahu has maintained that the reforms are necessary, arguing that the court is “too powerful” in its current form.
Critics of the plan say that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest, given his ongoing corruption trial. On Friday, Israel’s attorney general said Netanyahu broke the country’s conflict of interest laws, which bar him from direct involvement in the judicial reforms.