The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
Netanyahu has arrived at Sheba Medical Center and the procedure of implanting a cardiac pacemaker has begun, Hebrew media outlets report.
Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hospitalization to have a cardiac pacemaker implanted, the weekly cabinet meeting scheduled for the morning will be delayed to a yet-unknown time.
Also postponed are key security discussions — including a reported planned meeting between the premier and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi — on the impact on Israel’s security of the coalition’s “reasonableness” bill and the retaliatory threat by thousands of reservists to stop their duty if it passes.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin will serve as acting prime minister while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undergoes surgery to install a cardiac pacemaker in the coming hours, ministers decide.
The ministers are approving Levin’s nomination by phone.
A week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalized for dehydration and had a heart monitoring device implanted, the premier says that device beeped earlier in the evening, which necessitates immediate surgery to implant a pacemaker, a device that prevents one’s heart from beating too slowly.
In a video message, Netanyahu, 73, says he will undergo the procedure tonight, that he’s feeling “excellent” and that he’s adhering to his doctors’ advice.
Netanyahu says his medics told him he’s expected to be released tomorrow from Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan in time to take part in potential votes on the coalition’s controversial “reasonableness” bill. The Knesset begins debating the bill tomorrow morning, ahead of its second and third (final) readings, expected Monday or Tuesday.
The legislation, part of the wider plan to overhaul the judiciary, has drawn intense opposition, with hundreds of thousands protesting and some 10,000 reservists saying they’ll halt their volunteer duty if it passes into law.
Roads in Tel Aviv that were blocked during the evening by anti-overhaul protesters have almost all been cleared, with traffic restored.
Police have cleared the Ayalon Highway of protesters, but several of them are then seen throwing rocks and other objects from a bridge toward the thoroughfare. Two protesters are arrested for public disruptions, in addition to four arrested earlier.
HaShalom Junction has similarly been reopened to traffic.
Some protesters are still blocking Namir Road.
A group of protesters block traffic on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway, as part of demonstrations against the judicial overhaul.
Police arrest four of the demonstrators on suspicion of disturbing public order.
עשרות מפגינים חוסמים את איילון צפון דרומית מיצחק שדה pic.twitter.com/dHHFghAiBE
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) July 22, 2023
Anti-overhaul protesters are rallying outside the Histadrut’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, as chief Arnon Bar-David holds “emergency” deliberations amid calls for the labor federation to declare a strike.
אלפי מפגינים מול בניין ההסתדרות בתל אביב, ורבים ממשיכים להגיע. עכשיו.
קרדיט: גיל לוין pic.twitter.com/i1xbec6TlU
— ????️????????ShAuLi (@Shaulirena) July 22, 2023
Likud MK Eli Dallal swipes at National Security Itamar Ben Gvir for trolling opponents of the judicial overhaul, ahead of the expected passage of the first piece of related legislation next week.
Ben Gvir, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, tweeted after Shabbat ending this evening, “Good week. The salad bar is open.”
The remark was in reference to his recent comment that the “reasonableness” bill was “just like the opening dishes to whet your appetite,” meaning he would push to advance other far-reaching legislative changes the coalition has proposed. Netanyahu has insisted that he won’t pass any additional bills without broad agreement after this week.
“We are in complicated days, with masses of concerned citizens. We’re all brothers and I love all Israeli citizens, and have great love [for] those protesting against the reform,” Dallal says in response.
“Public servants need to calm down,” he continues. “The State of Israel will remain Jewish and democratic.”
Likud MK Dan Illouz also rebukes Ben Gvir, saying the coalition needs “to embrace” Israelis who are against the measure, “not stick fingers in their eyes.”
A minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party says the “reasonableness” bill will be passed in the coming days “as planned,” while railing at pilots and other reservists who have suspended their volunteer service or threatened to do so in protest of the judicial overhaul.
“The Knesset and government of Israel cannot afford to surrender to the protection threats of political insubordinates,” Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli tweets, comparing the reservists’ actions to a mafia extortion racket.
Energy Minister Israel Katz, a longtime Likud member, similarly vows the legislation will be passed in the next couple days, whether in its current version or more broadly “agreed upon” format.
“I represent citizens who aren’t willing to have their votes be annulled because of insubordination threats, or because of the blocking of Ben Gurion Airport, Ayalon [Highway] and train stations,” Katz writes on Twitter. “There’s an attempt here to exploit military service to force the government to change policies.”
Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin tells the Tel Aviv Kaplan Street rally that IDF reservists are “heroic” in declaring that they will not report for volunteer reserve duty.
“My brothers and sisters… who have saved our state on the battlefield from our enemies,” he says, “the battle today is for the nature of the state, against those who are seeking to destroy its foundations and its values.”
Diskin continues: “Suspending voluntary reserve service is certainly an irregular step — but it is a legal, democratic and non-violent step. And above all, it is a heroic step.”
The Tel Aviv rally organizers say 200,000 are gathered in Tel Aviv alone. Channel 12 reports hundreds of thousands of protesters nationwide.
The Israel Medical Association calls for physicians to head to Jerusalem tomorrow for a march and “healing the rupture in the nation” rally. The professional organization urges Israeli leaders from all sides to come together for talks to bring the country out of the current crisis.
Participants are instructed to arrive at the Chord Bridge at the entrance to the capital at 11:45 a.m., to prepare for a march to the nearby International Convention Center.
The IMA says doctors who are unable to go to Jerusalem because of their professional responsibilities may participate in protest gatherings at hospitals that will take place in coordination with administrators.
The organization also decides to announce a labor dispute, positioning it to call for a strike of the healthcare system should the “reasonableness” bill be passed into law in the coming days.
The IMA believes that curbing judicial review will damage the healthcare system, doctors and patient care. The professional organization says it’s prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court should the “reasonableness law pass.”
Earlier this week, the IMA led doctors and other healthcare community members in a two-hour “warning strike,” making clear that it would take more major steps should the government not halt the impending legislation.
The Israel Defense Forces denies a Channel 12 news report tonight which claimed that Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi warned the political echelon that the military’s readiness would be significantly harmed within 48 hours, amid calls by reservists to end their volunteer reserve duty in protest of the judicial overhaul.
“The report… is not true and was not released by the IDF,” the military says.
“The IDF discusses readiness exclusively with the political echelon,” it adds.
IDF chief Herzi Halevi is expected to speak tomorrow with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the growing number of reservists suspending their volunteer service to protest the judicial overhaul and the expected impact on military readiness, according to Hebrew media reports.
Over 200,000 people are taking part in the nationwide rallies against the judicial overhaul, Crowd Solutions estimates.
According to the firm, around 85,000 people are rallying outside the Knesset, 100,000 on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, 14,000 in Haifa and 10,000 in Netanya.
Smaller demonstrations are also being held in numerous other cities and sites around the country.
At a press conference in Herzliya, members of the Brothers in Arms protest group announce that 10,000 reserve soldiers they represent will stop showing up for volunteer duty to protest the judicial overhaul.
The reserve soldiers join over 1,000 Israeli Air Force reservists and others who have similarly suspended their volunteer service or threatened to do so.
Speaking at an anti-overhaul protest in Modiin, opposition leader Yair Lapid hits out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning of serious harm to the military if a bill to curb judicial oversight over government decisions passes.
“There are only two possibilities for the government in the coming days: Destroy the country or destroy itself. Destroy the army, the economy and relations with the Americans, or not,” Lapid says.
“Netanyahu needs to choose what he prefers — the Israel Defense Forces or the ‘reasonableness’ clause,” he adds.
PM said determined to pass ‘reasonableness’ law as planned this week unless compromise deal with opposition
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told coalition MKs that if no agreement can be reached with the opposition on the “reasonableness” bill, it will be passed in its current form on Monday as scheduled, Channel 12 reports.
The TV station further reports that there has been no contact between coalition leaders and opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz over the weekend.
The report suggests that Netanyahu is not prepared to unilaterally soften the provisions of the bill — which will prevent judicial review of government and ministerial decisions according to their “reasonableness” — or to accede to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s reported plea to delay the vote and allow more time to negotiate a compromise on the bill.
Channel 12 further reports, without citing sources, that IDF chief Herzi Halevi has told Netanyahu and Gallant that if the law passes, and the vow by hundreds of volunteer reserve pilots to stop their service takes effect, the IAF’s operational capabilities will be adversely affected within 48 hours.
Education Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud), a former combat pilot, tells Channel 12 that the reasonableness law “does not spell the demise of Israel and the end of democracy,” as some critics have said. “The government cannot capitulate in the face of pressure from [some in the] military,” he adds.
The same TV station quotes unnamed coalition sources saying that the coalition “cannot concede to a group of officers led by Ehud Barak” — the former prime minister and ex-IDF chief who is repeatedly cited by members of the coalition as a central figure galvanizing reservists’ opposition to the judicial overhaul.
After reaching the Knesset, protesters who took part in the march to Jerusalem sing “Hativka” as they stage a mass demonstration there against the judicial overhaul.
In the nearby Rehavia neighborhood, demonstrators hold a rally on Azza Street, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an apartment.
— נועה ברנס Noa Baranes (@noabaranes10) July 22, 2023
Tel Aviv’s Ibn Gvirol Street is blocked in both directions as thousands of protesters march toward Kaplan Street.
Using the feminine form in the Hebrew language, they sing “we are not afraid.” Drivers trapped by the protest are generally good-natured despite their predicament
Meanwhile, protesters gather in other cities and sites nationwide for the weekly protests against the judicial shakeup, ahead of the final plenum votes next week on the “reasonableness” bill.
Nearly 500 active reservists in the Military Intelligence Directorate have issued a letter announcing that they are suspending their volunteer reserve duty in protest of the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system.
The reservists call on the government to “immediately stop the dictatorial moves that violate the contract between the government of Israel and its citizens.”
“Although we have called many times for negotiations and broad agreements on the issues at hand, unfortunately, not only did the negotiations at the president’s residence not go well, but the government continues to advance the coup all the more forcefully,” the letter says.
The reservists say they are informing their commanders, “with great sadness, that we are suspending our volunteering for reserve service until further notice.”
The letter, addressed to the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, is signed by 904 reservists, 487 of whom show up frequently for duty.
The Histadrut says the labor federation’s chief Arnon Bar-David will hold an “emergency meeting” at 9:30 p.m, as he faces calls from opponents of the judicial overhaul to declare a general strike to stop the “reasonableness” bill from being passed.
The meeting will include other senior Histadrut officials and Dubi Amitai, who heads a group of representatives for the business sector. According to reports Friday, Bar-David and Amitai met with Netanyahu to try to find a compromise deal.
Thousands of protesters begin to gather in groups across Tel Aviv, as part of a number of marches through the coastal city that are set to converge at Kaplan Street for a central rally.
A large group of demonstrators in the Old North neighborhood are accompanied by a group of drummers, creating a carnival atmosphere as they wait for marchers to arrive on foot from Ramat Aviv before they head south through the city.
After setting off, the protesters block Ibn Gvirol Street as they march south.
Members of the Students Protest group set up a “tent city” in Gan Sacher, a Jerusalem park adjacent to the Knesset, ahead of the rallies there tonight and coming days.
“We won’t move until the legislation is stopped,” the group says, referring to the “reasonableness” bill.
לא זזים, עד שהחקיקה לא עוצרת: פעילות ופעילי מחאת הסטודנטיות והסטודנטים החלו בהקמת עיר האוהלים בגן סאקר.
אנחנו לא מתכוונים לוותר, ולא ניכנע לניסיונות של הממשלה להרתיע את המחאה. עד שנתניהו לא יחדול – אנחנו לא מתכוונים לזוז מכאן. מזמינות את כל משתתפי הצעדה להצטרף אלינו. pic.twitter.com/bbgemYwb6P
— מחאת הסטודנטים Students Protest (@1StudentProtest) July 22, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government indicates it has no intention of slowing the passage of the “reasonableness” bill, amid growing protests and threats by reservists to stop volunteering ahead of the legislation’s expected package in the next few days.
“The government and coalition’s position is unequivocal: The greatest harm to Israel’s security and democracy is the subordination of the government and Knesset to the dictates of military units,” unnamed coalition officials say in a statement to Hebrew media outlets.
“The efforts to reach an agreement on the legislation will continue until the last moment. In the absence of an agreement, the legislation will be passed as planned,” the officials add.
A Palestinian from the northern West Bank city of Jenin is detained after attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at the nearby Jalamah checkpoint, the Defense Ministry says.
According to the ministry, the suspect, while brandishing a knife, ran toward security guards manning the border crossing.
The guards fired warning shots, and the suspect then threw the knife to the side, before being detained, the ministry says.
There are no injuries in the incident.
Protesters taking part in the march to Jerusalem have reached the entrance to the city, after setting out on Tuesday night in an effort to “save democracy by halting the passage of the first bill in the coalition’s judicial overhaul package.”
Part of Route 1 is blocked due to the large number of demonstrators arriving at the capital, with police guarding them.
From the Chords Bridge at Jerusalem’s entrance, the protesters are set to march to the Knesset, where they will rally as the final votes on the “reasonableness” bill are held in the coming days.
Some 72,000 people are taking part in the march, according to an estimation by the Crowd Solutions firm cited by Channel 13 news. The march began with a small group in Tel Aviv.
— Or-ly Barlev ~ אור-לי ברלב (@orlybarlev) July 22, 2023
Opponents of the judicial overhaul rally outside Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s home in Amikam, urging him to call to halt the “reasonableness” bill that the coalition is on track to pass into law in the coming days.
Television reports last night said Gallant was working to push off next week’s vote due to growing protests and opposition in the military, with over 1,000 air force reservists announcing yesterday they will suspend their volunteer service to protest the judicial overhaul.
מתחילים להתאסף סמוך לביתו של שר הביטחון בעמיקם. pic.twitter.com/mL6eZmS0jE
— |فرات نصار|פוראת נסאר|FURAT NASSAR (@nassar_furat) July 22, 2023
Dozens of former senior security officials — including ex-heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad and Shin Bet — send a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to halt the judicial overhaul legislation to allow for renewed talks, while expressing support for reservists who have threatened to stop volunteering in protest.
In the letter, the security chiefs say they hold Netanyahu “directly responsible for the serious harm” to Israel’s security, while accusing him of “completely ignoring the harm to Israeli democracy” from the legislation.
“The legislative process violates the social contract that has existed for 75 years between thousands of reserve commanders and soldiers,” they write, while calling the reservists’ threats “an act of national responsibility for defending Israeli democracy.”
“We expect you to take responsibility,” they add. “We, veterans of Israel’s wars, feel like ‘on the eve of the Yom Kippur War’ and are holding up a bright red stop sign before you and your government.”
The signatories include former IDF chiefs Ehud Barak, Moshe Ya’alon and Dan Halutz; Mossad commanders Nahum Admoni, Efraim Halevy, Shabtai Shavit, Danny Yatom and Tamir Pardo; Shin Bet commanders Carmi Gillon, Yuval Diskin and Nadav Argaman; and several former police commissioners and prison service leaders, among others.
Due to the anti-overhaul protest march currently nearing Jerusalem, police announce the closure of a number of streets in the capital today and tomorrow, when demonstrators are due to be held as the Knesset begins deliberations on the coalition’s “reasonableness” bill.
Along with streets around the Knesset and surrounding area, which will be closed at different intervals over the next day, police will partly close the road at the Chords Bridge entrance to Jerusalem.
The Brothers In Arms protest group announces it will hold a press conference this evening with representatives of military reserve units, amid growing threats by reservists to stop showing up for volunteer duty in protest of the judicial overhaul legislation.
According to the group, the reservists will discuss “the continuation of their volunteer service in reserves following the dictatorial legislation.”
The anti-overhaul protest march has now reached Motza, a suburb on Jerusalem’s outskirts, as demonstrators near the capital after a march that began with a handful of people in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening and has now swollen to tens of thousands.
Protest organizers say demonstrators took a break before setting out on “the last leg of the march ending outside the Knesset,” where they are due to arrive this evening for a mass rally.
Along with the demonstration there, major protests are due to be held at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street and at some 150 other spots across Israel as part of the 29th series of weekly rallies against the judicial shakeup.
הצעדה נעה על כביש 1 לכיוון ירושלים pic.twitter.com/yNLwa0dAUw
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) July 22, 2023
Tomorrow morning, the Knesset is set to begin debating the “reasonableness” bill ahead of its second and third (final) readings, scheduled for Monday. The bill bars judicial review of the “reasonableness” of government and ministerial decisions. It would be the first law to pass of the coalition’s planned judicial overhaul package, which is set to give the government near-complete control over the appointment of Israel’s judges, and widely constrain the High Court’s capacity to overrule laws and government decisions.
Amid unprecedented opposition from within the Israel Air Force and other parts of the military, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last night that he was “taking measures in order to reach a wide consensus” on the imminent legislation.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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