Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a weekly cabinet meeting Image Credit: Reuters

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will delay the process for discussions on the controversial planned judicial overhaul to next month, a statement from the far-right and coalition member party Jewish Power said on Monday.

The statement said the legislation would be pushed to the next session of Israeli parliament in order to "pass the reform through dialogue," the statement said.

Parliament will go on recess next week for the Passover holiday.


Tens of thousands rallied near parliament in Jerusalem after the strike was declared, following Netanyahu's decision on Sunday evening to sack his defence minister for dissenting over the reform package.

Facing escalating disputes within his hard-right coalition and mounting pressure from opponents to halt the reform, Netanyahu is expected to address the nation later on Monday.

Some 80,000 demonstrators joined the Jerusalem rally against the reform package, Israeli media estimated, while right-wing backers of the overhaul called on supporters to protest later on Monday.

"I call on all protesters in Jerusalem, from the left or the right, to act in a responsible manner and not act with violence," Netanyahu tweeted.

Israel's top trade union chief called a general strike over the proposed reforms, which would weaken the powers of the judiciary. Demonstrators have for months decried the plans as a threat to Israel's democracy.

"I am calling a general strike," Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David said Monday in a televised address.

"We have a mission to stop this legislative process and we will do it," he added, vowing to "continue to fight".

The Israel Medical Association quickly followed suit, announcing "a full strike in the health system" that will impact all public hospitals.

The stoppage was also affecting flights at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, where an AFP journalist saw multiple delayed departures.

Diplomatic staff were among those walking out, with Washington embassy spokesman Elad Strohmayer tweeting the Israeli mission "will be closed until further notice".

'Tangible threat' 

Following mass demonstrations in Tel Aviv overnight, President Isaac Herzog pressed for an immediate halt to the judicial programme.

"For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel I call on you to halt the legislative process immediately," Herzog said in a statement.