(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would postpone a vote on far-reaching reforms to the judiciary and engage in dialogue with the opposition, yielding to calls from hundreds of thousands of protesters as well as senior members of his own party and international leaders.
In his televised address, Netanyahu cited fears of civil war, which Israeli President Isaac Herzog had also warned of weeks ago.
“I am not ready to tear the people into shreds,” Netanyahu said Monday in remarks broadcast just past 8 p.m. Israel time. “We are not facing enemies but brothers. I am saying now and here, there must not be a civil war.”
He added, “I have decided to delay the second and third readings of the legislation until the Knesset reconvenes” roughly a month from now, at the end of April. He said the break — which includes the Jewish and Israeli holidays of Passover, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day — would be devoted to dialogue.
Netanyahu’s announcement marks a significant victory for opponents of the judicial reform, and heralds a new stage in the months-long debate over the legislation which, as written, would sap the Supreme Court of much of its power and independence. As it stands, the legislation substantially increases government control over Supreme Court appointments and essentially removes the court’s ability to review laws. That version of the legislation will almost certainly not pass now, and leaders of a strike called on Monday to protest the reforms called it off immediately after Netanyahu’s speech.
The legislation has been controversial ever since it was unveiled near the beginning of the year, just weeks after Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition took office. For months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to oppose the proposals, and their calls were joined by a chorus of public figures, in Israel and abroad, who warned that the overhaul would remove a key component of Israel’s democratic system. Reservists in the Israel Defense Forces vowed to absent themselves from duty in protest.
Netanyahu and his allies said that the reform reflected the will of Israel’s right-wing majority. But facing the threats from reservists, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on television Saturday night that he supported a pause in the legislation, as well as dialogue toward a compromise. He said internal conflict in the IDF surrounding the overhaul put Israel’s security at risk.
One day later, on Sunday night, Netanyahu fired Gallant — a decision that sparked massive, spontaneous protests across the country, starting late Sunday night and lasting until Monday’s early hours, and then reconvening Monday afternoon.
In his speech on Monday, Netanyahu railed against reservists refusing to report for duty, which he called a “terrible crime.”
“The state of Israel cannot exist without the IDF, and the IDF cannot exist with refusal,” he said. “Refusal from one side will lead to refusal from the other side. Refusal is the end of our country. So I demand — demand — of the commanders of the security forces, and the commanders of the IDF, to forcefully oppose the phenomenon of refusal.”
Opposition leaders, including Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, accepted Netanyahu’s call for dialogue. Lapid said the dialogue should lead to the writing of a constitution for Israel, which the country currently lacks, under the aegis of President Isaac Herzog. For weeks, Herzog has been calling for a pause in the legislative process and had previously unveiled a compromise on the judicial reform that Netanyahu’s coalition rejected. The Biden administration had also urged Netanyahu to find a compromise, including in a conversation last week between President Joe Biden and Netanyahu.
Bitter feelings were still evident in the prime minister’s speech: Netanyahu said pro-government protesters who turned out on Monday evening were “spontaneous,” “not paid for, not spurred by the media.” Netanyahu has at times depicted the massive protests as a conspiracy.
Gantz, in accepting the offer, said, “The prime minister is principally responsible for tearing the country apart.” He also called on Netanyahu to reinstall Gallant. Netanyahu did not mention Gallant in his address.
Netanyahu said his decision to pause the legislative process was backed by a majority of his coalition. In December, Netanyahu allied with the far-right Religious Zionist bloc as part of his governing coalition, and one of the bloc’s leaders, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, was pressing for quick passage of the reforms up until Netanyahu’s announcement.
Another leader of the far-right bloc, Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister, circulated an agreement signed by himself and Netanyahu to establish a “National Guard” alongside the decision to pause the court reform. It is not clear how such an entity would function alongside Israel’s already massive security infrastructure. Ben-Gvir has called for the loosening of open-fire rules in clashes between security forces and Palestinians. Netanyahu likewise did not mention the agreement with Ben-Gvir in his speech.
In a tweet posted shortly before Netanyahu’s speech, Ben-Gvir sounded defiant.
“The reform will pass. The national guard will be established. The budget I demanded for the Ministry of National Security will pass in its entirety,” he wrote. “No one will frighten us. No one will be able to change the decision of the people.”
Then, mimicking the central chant of the anti-government protesters, he added: “Repeat after me: De-mo-cra-cy!”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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