Netanyahu postpones judicial reform after protests

In the wake of violent mass protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed the adoption of the controversial judicial reform. Yesterday evening, representatives of the right-wing religious government and the opposition met for initial negotiations. The talks reportedly ended "in a good mood". Commentators nevertheless suspect that the crisis isn't over yet.

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La Croix (FR) /

Democracy still in danger

The crisis is not over yet, La Croix writes in concern:

“Everything Prime Minister Netanyahu does seems to be guided by his need to escape prosecution. The revolt by the opposition and warnings from Israel's long-time allies have rendered him temporarily weak. But his solidity, skill and resilience no longer need to be proven. Hit but not sunk, the Netanyahu government retains a slim majority in the Knesset. The prime minister can continue to benefit from a fractured political landscape and bank on the illiberal temptation of one section of the right. Israeli democracy, under attack from within, is not yet out of the woods.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

A high price for postponement

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the question is whether Netanyahu still even has the authority to push through a compromise within his coalition:

“He has already had to pay a considerable price to restore order in the country for the time being. Security Minister Ben-Gvir demanded oversight of the National Guard in exchange for agreeing to postpone the reform - never mind suspending or revising it. The fact that this extremist provocateur is to be given command of the recently formed paramilitary force set up to combat domestic unrest may prove problematic.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Pressure on government must continue

De Volkskrant also criticises Netanyahu's promise that the ultra-nationalist Minister of National Security Itavar Ben-Gvir will be given an armed elite unit:

“We can assume that the violence will intensify on the western bank of the Jordan River, which will inevitably lead to a new spiral of violence between the Palestinian resistance movements and the Israeli army. ... The vicious circle of violence, repression, revenge and hardening on both sides will never end if the world continues to look away. The (international) pressure on Netanyahu to respect the rule of law and democracy must now continue. This includes the respect for the rights of Palestinians to their native soil and to live in freedom.”

Delo (SI) /

Further and further to the right

For Delo it's clear who's responsible for the unrest:

“This major political crisis is the work of Benjamin Netanyahu - a man who has never been interested in anything other than governing and securing his political survival. At the end of last year, Netanyahu took over the leadership of the Israeli government for the sixth time. With each government he led, he pushed the boundaries of the right further towards the fringes. With the current government, which after four years of political instability he cobbled together with the help of the most extreme racist, chauvinist, backward and religious parties, he has pushed the boundary not only over the edge of what is acceptable in right-wing politics in democratic societies, but over the edge of politics itself.”

Karar (TR) /

Israelis resisting post-modern tyranny

People who are aware of their rights and freedoms will not allow the reform to happen at all, says Karar:

“In the end, Netanyahu had to stop the bill for the time being. Israel's atrocities, especially in the West Bank, justify any kind of protest. But Israel has also produced moderate and respected political leaders such as [the murdered prime minister] Isaac Rabin and today's President Herzog. It is of course commendable that the Israeli people have successfully resisted the postmodern tyranny of the ultra-right Netanyahu and a coalition of small parties that want to impose a kind of Torah Sharia.” (UA) /

Bibi always good for a surprise

According to a current poll the popularity of the governing parties has plummeted. Commenting in an article for, Michael Gold, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian-Jewish daily Hadashot, still does not want to write of Netanyahu prematurely:

“If elections were held today, Likud would not be able to form a coalition. ... Moreover, for the first time, two opposition leaders - Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid - are ahead of the incumbent prime minister in a virtual battle for the post of head of government. ... Netanyahu is a master of many moves and quite capable of surprising his opponents. What kind of surprise? We'll find out shortly before the summer session of the Knesset.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A lesson in democracy

Israel's prime minister underestimated the power of popular resistance, writes Der Standard:

“Israel has taught the world a lesson in democracy. The hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets for weeks in all weather conditions to save their country from a power-hungry, partially corrupt government have shown that democracy does not end with elections. ... The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu has now fired the minister [defence minister Yoav Gallant] only shows how desperate he is: Israel's longest-ruling prime minister made the wrong calculation: he underestimated how powerless he is when the people on the street mean business.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

The opposite of what was intended

Netanyahu has gravely miscalculated, Spotmedia puts in:

“Benjamin Netanyahu expected that the people would be preoccupied with other problems and that the protests would disperse, but with this attitude he's triggered a boomerang effect. ... The demands now go far beyond the issue of judicial reform. Political scientists in Israel are talking about the need for a clear and robust constitution to prevent future abuses of power and to punish radical lapses by the government.”

Cicero (DE) /

Both sides need to move closer

A reform of the Supreme Court is nonetheless necessary, Cicero stresses:

“Israel has no written constitution, so the chief justices refer to various individual 'basic laws', which, however, do not have constitutional status. ... This means that the court's judgements reflect above all the subjective political convictions of the judges, who are recruited almost without exception from the left-liberal, European-influenced middle classes. ... And since the court even has a right of veto on the appointment of new judges, it itself ensures that this remains the case. ... Reason enough, then, for the government and the opposition to move closer to each other and find a compromise that makes the necessary reforms possible and avoids the excesses of the government's proposal.”

Politiken (DK) /

Israel needs a constitution

For Politiken, this is a step in the right direction:

“However, even if the battle was victorious, the war for Israel's future is not yet won. The crisis has exposed the major weaknesses in Israel's structure and democracy that need to be addressed. ... The country is no longer a young pioneer state, but a regional superpower. It is unacceptable that Israel has no constitution that establishes once and for all the separation of powers between the parliament and the courts. It must correct this sin of omission now. And once this has been done, the Israeli population in general must take up the fight against the settlers and the ultra-Orthodox Jews on both a political and a moral level.”

Denik N (CZ) /

Postponement won't end the crisis

Netanyahu will stick to his reform plans, fears Deník N:

“The obstacle preventing a calming of the situation is the longest-serving Israeli prime minister himself. ... Netanyahu, who unlike David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the modern state of Israel, wasn't capable of leaving politics at the right moment, has above all a personal reason for the reforms - he himself stands accused of corruption and abuse of power. A judicial reform would free him from his problems with the law and allow his radical partners to push through the changes they have long dreamed of but which the Supreme Court has so far denied them. The price of their cynical domestic policy is to put the only functioning democracy in the Middle East at risk.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

New national sentiment as a driving force

Corriere della Sera notes:

“For almost four months, hundreds of thousands of people, including families who until the day before were apolitical, have been demonstrating alongside activists, representatives of the opposition and even the most moderate among the conservatives. And more come every day. The organisers of the protests, representing a centre-left that for years has been suspected of not understanding patriotism, admit that they have rediscovered the colours of the national flag. And it is this recourse to a fabric of identity which until now was claimed exclusively by the forces of the right that makes what is happening in a country that has never faced such radical internal confrontation so extraordinary and dramatic.”