Israel’s Ceremonial President to Netanyahu: ‘Wake Up Now!’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary was facing mounting opposition on Monday, with the country’s ceremonial president urging for an immediate halt to the legal changes, the AP reports. Universities countrywide shut their doors in protest and trade unions were expected to call for a general strike. The growing resistance to the plan came hours after tens of thousands of people burst into the streets around the country in a spontaneous show of anger at Netanyahu’s decision to fire his defense minister after he called for a pause to the overhaul. Israel’s ceremonial President Isaac Herzog urged Netanyahu to immediately halt the overhaul, calling on the government to put aside political considerations for the sake of the nation. “The entire nation is rapt with deep worry. Our security, economy, society—all are under threat,” he said. “Wake up now!”

The overhaul has sparked one of Israel’s gravest domestic crises, drawing widespread opposition from business leaders, legal officials and even the country’s military. An uneasy calm returned to the country’s streets after a raucous night of protests where tens of thousands of demonstrators lit bonfires on Tel Aviv’s main highway, blocking that major throughway as well as others throughout the country. Beyond the protests, universities across the country closed down “until further notice” in protest at the government’s insistence to push forward on the plan. A trade union umbrella group was expected to announce that it was joining the protesters and was reportedly set to announced a general strike. But Netanyahu’s dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant appeared to signal that the prime minister and his allies will barrel ahead this week with the overhaul plan.

(Read more Israel stories.)