(NewsNation) — After massive protests and international criticism, Israel’s Prime Minister is delaying his controversial plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.
Monthslong protests aimed at reforms that would give the country’s parliament more control over the judicial system intensified over the weekend.
Netanyahu and his religious and ultranationalist allies presented the overhaul in January, just days after forming the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.
The proposal plunged Israel into its worst domestic crisis in decades. Business leaders, top economists and former security chiefs have all come out against the plan, saying it is pushing the country toward an autocracy. Fighter pilots and military reservists threatened to not to report for duty, and the country’s currency, the shekel, has tumbled in value.
On Saturday, Israel’s defense minister called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the proposed reforms. On Sunday, Netanyahu fired that official.
But after protests and strikes forced closures, including at the country’s largest international airport, Netanyahu responded by saying he would delay the proposed judicial overhaul to avoid a “civil war.”
Speaking after tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated outside parliament, Netanyahu vowed to reach a “broad consensus” during the summer session of parliament, which begins on April 30.
While the announcement appeared to calm some of the tensions that have fueled three tumultuous months of unrest, it failed to address the underlying issues that have polarized the nation. The anti-government protest movement vowed to intensify its efforts.
The White House says President Joe Biden has conveyed his disagreements over the judicial reform proposal with Netanyahu. For now, though, the Biden administration is calling for one thing in particular.
“We welcome this announcement as an opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “A compromise is precisely what we have been calling for.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.