Israeli government to delay disputed judiciary bill amid mass protests
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday delayed a decision on bitterly contested plans for a judicial overhaul until next month amid fears that Israel's worst national crisis in years could fracture his coalition or escalate into violence.
It was unclear how far the bill's delay to the next parliamentary session, announced by far-right coalition partner Jewish Power, will satisfy either side or cool a crisis the army chief said on Monday made "this hour different to any before".
A hard-right coalition partner, Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, said he had agreed to the postponement in exchange for a commitment to submit the legislation in the next session of parliament.
Opponents of the plan to tighten parliament's control over judicial processes call it a threat to democracy and have mobilised huge protests against it. Supporters of the legislation, including far-right football fans, have promised counter demonstrations.
Flights from Ben Gurion airport were grounded and seaports, banks, hospitals and medical services were also set to stop work as the head of the national labour union Histadrut called for a general strike to stop the judicial overhaul going ahead.
Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi said on Monday: "We have not known such days of external threats coalescing, while a storm is brewing at home".