What to know about Israel’s protests and judicial overhaul

Demonstrators in Jerusalem on Monday protest the Israeli government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
6 min

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to remake Israel’s judicial system has plunged the country into crisis, setting off the most widespread social unrest in decades.

Netanyahu announced Monday that he would delay the proposed overhaul, suggesting that a compromise was needed to prevent “a civil war.” Some protesters, however, have pledged to keep up the pressure until the legislation is withdrawn.

The plan, which would give the government greater power to choose judges, including those presiding over Netanyahu’s corruption trial, has split the country, especially pitting liberal, secular Israelis against the religiously conservative factions.

Live updates: Israel protests plunge country into crisis over Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan

Workers at universities, hospitals, airlines and elsewhere paralyzed much of the economy on Monday through a general strike. Protesters brought cities to a standstill. Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, also a member of the prime minister’s Likud party, after he called on the government to halt the plan.

Here’s what to know about the judicial overhaul plan and the protests.

Understanding the protests in Israel

The latest: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delayed his plans for a judicial overhaul as a general strike is threatening to bring Israel to a standstill. Follow live updates here.

What’s happening with the judicial system? Netanyahu fired his defense minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday. He was the first cabinet member to break with Netanyahu over plans to overhaul the judicial system, saying it would pose a security risk to Israel. Remaking the courts would give Netanyahu’s government more power to pick judges — plans that had been discussed in some circles for years.

The protests: Universities, workers’ unions, hospitals and more are all engaged in the strike. Meet some of the protestors who have been pushing back against the prime minister.