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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been released from hospital after having a pacemaker fitted over the weekend.
The resignation means Netanyahu, 73, can attend the crucial vote on the first package of controversial legal reforms in Israel. This vote may actually take place today.
Today there are protests again, the roads are blocked by opponents of reforms. Last night, the largest companies in Israel announced that they would strike today against the reforms.
Netanyahu was hospitalized late Saturday night. He had become unwell a week ago, which he attributed to dehydration. A heart monitor was placed. Then the monitor told him he needed a pacemaker. Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan said the operation went well. Netanyahu himself said in a video message that he was satisfied.
Shortly before Netanyahu was released from hospital, protests against legal reforms were still full in Jerusalem. Thousands of people got to their feet waving Israeli flags and blocking roads. The police used water cannons to disperse them. This morning, the demonstrators closed the entrance to the parliament building.
Supporters of legal reform also took to the streets, as can be seen in the photo below.
Protests have broken out in Israel against the government’s plans since the beginning of this year. These protests regularly attract more than 100,000 people. In January, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to implement controversial legal reforms. The government wants the Supreme Court, the independent authority, to have less power. Instead, the Knesset, the parliament, would be given much greater powers.
At the end of March, the government declared a cooling-off period due to the widespread protests. During that period, unsuccessful efforts were made to reach a compromise with the opposition. Now the Netanyahu administration is trying to push the deal through the Knesset in parts, with the first vote soon to come.
The exact timing of the vote will depend on the length and outcome of the marathon Knesset debate that began yesterday. US President Biden – Israel’s main ally – has previously called on Netanyahu to delay reforms. “The current legal reform proposal appears more divisive, not less,” Biden said in a statement.
“Given the array of threats and challenges Israel currently faces, it makes no sense for Israeli leaders to rush things — the focus should be on bringing people together and building consensus.”
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