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Israeli protesters vow to stay put until Netanyahu's ‘judicial reform’ scrapped

A main leader of the protest movement in Israel says protests over controversial plans to overhaul the regime’s judicial system will continue until prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu scraps the changes.

An Israeli protest leader has vowed that demonstrations will continue across the occupied territories after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a controversial plan to overhaul the regime’s judiciary will be delayed until next month.

“As long as the legislation continues and is not shelved, we will be on the streets,” Shikma Bressler, one of the main leaders of the protest movement, said after Netanyahu made the announcement in a televised address on Monday.

Bressler said Netanyahu and his coalition colleagues are clearly determined to press ahead with their “dictatorship laws” in the next Knesset session, which is slated to be held a month from now.

She said the proposed changes, which would limit the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the legislature and the executive, giving the Israeli parliament (Knesset) the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority of 61 votes out of 120, was “harming the economy and the security of Israel.”

Netanyahu announced on Monday evening that he was temporarily freezing the bill that would alter the makeup of Israel’s judicial system. He said he was determined to pass the judicial reform.

He spoke after tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated outside the Knesset and workers launched a general strike in a dramatic escalation of the mass protest movement aimed at halting his plan.

The chaos shut down much of cities and threatened to paralyze the economy, with flights suspended at Ben Gurion International Airport and work halted at main seaports.

Kindergartens and malls were also closed, as well as branches of the fast food chains.

Shortly after the address, the head of the biggest labor union, Histadrut, said it would call off a general strike.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz said the decision was “better late than never,” but that he would not compromise in any dialogue on the new law.

Netanyahu had said the so-called judicial reform will stop the courts from over-reaching their powers, but critics say they will help him as he faces an ongoing trial for corruption.

The struggle over the plans illustrates the deep divide in Israeli society between supporters of the incumbent right-wing administration, who say the judicial changes are necessary, and the growing number of people opposed to Netanyahu’s plan, who argue that the moves will weaken the independence of the judiciary.

Earlier, Israeli president Isaac Herzog also called for the legislative process to stop.

“For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately,” Herzog said on Monday morning.

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