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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed to hospital to have a pacemaker fitted to his heart early Sunday morning as a bitter battle over his government’s plan to reform the judicial system neared boiling point.
Lawmakers are set to vote on the first overhaul on Monday, which plunged Israel into its deepest political crisis in years, sparking 29 weeks of mass protests, drawing criticism from the United States and creating rifts in the country’s vital military reserves.
Doctors at Shiva Medical Center near Tel Aviv said the 73-year-old Prime Minister Netanyahu had an irregular heartbeat and was wearing a pacemaker designed to regulate his heart rate.
A week ago, Netanyahu was put on a heart monitor after being treated in hospital after his office said he had become dehydrated from spending too much time in the sun.
“Everything went well. Prime Minister Netanyahu said before the operation that he expected him to be released by Monday’s vote.
Netanyahu’s hospitalization comes at the height of protests against the overhaul being pushed by a coalition of far-right and ultra-religious parties. Tens of thousands of protesters flowed into Jerusalem on Saturday night after a four-day 70-kilometer march from Tel Aviv, while more than 100,000 others joined demonstrations in central Tel Aviv.
With more protests scheduled for Sunday, Arnon Bardavid, head of Israel’s largest trade union Histadrut, said he would “act without hesitation” if no compromise was found. “Everyone in both countries must recognize that we are at a historic and critical time for our country’s future,” he said.
A group of 10,000 people known as the “Comrades-in-arms” announced on Saturday that they would stop volunteering for the mission in protest of the overhaul, as protest drums by Israeli army reservists thundered through street rallies.
Their announcement followed a similar threat Friday by 1,100 Air Force reservists, with the military’s chief spokesman Maj. [in a way] It will take a long time to repair. “
“We will not be able to survive as a country in the region” unless the military is united and strong, Chief of Staff Helzi Halevi warned in a letter to military personnel Sunday morning about the repercussions of reservists’ intimidation. “It is our duty to prevent these cracks from widening,” he wrote.
A cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday morning was canceled due to Netanyahu’s hospitalization. However, parliamentary deliberations on the first judicial reforms to be pursued by the Netanyahu government began on schedule.
At issue is a bill that would prevent Israel’s Supreme Court from using the criterion of “reasonableness” to invalidate government decisions.
In addition, government officials say other changes, such as a restructuring of the body that appoints judges, are needed to curb the powers of an overly active judiciary that claims to pursue partisan leftist policies.
But critics see the proposal as a politically-motivated attack on checks on the Israeli government, disenfranchising minorities, fostering corruption and paving the way for economic damage.