JERUSALEM—Calm returned to Israeli cities Tuesday and protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul dispersed after the premier agreed to suspend the controversial plan and Israeli President Isaac Herzog offered to host compromise talks between the two sides.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis demonstrated on Sunday and Monday after Mr. Netanyahu fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, for calling to delay passing the first part of the government’s plan to weaken Israel’s judiciary
. The country’s largest labor union had called a general strike that grounded flights
and closed banks and government offices.
Mr. Netanyahu said on Monday evening that he would halt the overhaul’s progress through Israel’s parliament, or Knesset, for at least a month. He said that his coalition still intended to pass the legislation when the Knesset returns from its recess in late April, but that the delay was necessary to prevent political violence.
“I will give a genuine opportunity for genuine dialogue,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “One way or another, we will bring about a reform that returns the balance that has been lost between branches of government.”
Demonstrators dispersed after the divisive plan's progress through parliament was halted for at least a month.
The judicial overhaul plan has divided the country
, sparked concern from key allies such as the U.S. and caused thousands of military reservists to say they will refuse to serve
should the laws pass. Political analysts have warned that the country could be heading toward a constitutional crisis
that could pit the courts against the Knesset.
Both Mr. Netanyahu and opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz said they would be willing to negotiate a potential compromise on the overhaul in the coming month.
His proposed changes provoked an outpouring of anger from nearly all parts of Israeli society.
The government, Israel's most right-wing ever, is seeking to take decisive control over the committee which appoints judges. The reforms would give the parliament authority to override Supreme Court decisions with a basic majority and would make it difficult to declare a prime minister unfit for office and remove them from power.
Critics say the legislative package would hobble the country’s system of checks and balances. Protesters vowed to intensify their demonstrations.