Israel's Netanyahu announces 'pause' to judicial reforms



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced a pause to divisive judicial reforms moving through parliament, after months of street rallies that drew tens of thousands of people.

"Out of a sense of national responsibility, out of a will to prevent a rupture among our people, I have decided to pause the second and third readings of the bill," he told the legislature.

The government's plan to enable parliament to override Supreme Court decisions and hold control over judicial appointments triggered some of the biggest protests in Israeli history, with opponents calling the move a threat to democracy.

Violence both in Israel and the occupied West Bank has escalated over the past few weeks to heights unseen in years. On Saturday, a Palestinian shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank town of Hawara, the site of a violent settler rampage last month.

Netanyahu's decision to put off the legislation also followed opposition from the Histadrut, or Israel's General Federation of Labour, which grounded flights at Ben Gurion airport and planned to close seaports, banks, hospitals and medical services.

The union called off the strikes after Netanyahu announced the delay.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said stopping the bill was "the right thing to do." Herzog pleaded with Netanyahu to halt his judicial overhaul for the sake of national unity on Monday.