TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is recovering in hospital on Sunday after undergoing emergency heart surgery, but fears have hit the country as opposition to the government’s controversial judicial reform plan reaches a fever pitch.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s doctors said on Sunday that the implantation of a heart pacemaker was going well and that the 73-year-old Netanyahu is in good health. According to his agency, he is expected to leave the hospital on the same day. But tensions were high as lawmakers launched a marathon debate over the first major parts of the review ahead of parliament’s vote on the bill on Monday.
Large-scale protests will continue. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Israel on Saturday night, while thousands marched to Jerusalem and camped near the Knesset ahead of Monday’s vote.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sudden hospitalization adds another dizzying twist to an already dramatic string of events that are sure to shape Israel’s future. This comes as Israel’s longest-serving leader faces the most serious challenges to his leadership and the worst domestic crisis that has shaken the economy, cracked the military and tested the fragile social fabric that binds the polarized nation together.
Despite being hospitalized, lawmakers began to debate. In a fiery opening speech, Simcha Rosman, a key proponent of the overhaul, accused the court of undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy by arbitrarily nullifying government decisions.
“This small provision aims to restore democracy to the state of Israel,” Rothman said. “I will ask members of parliament to approve the bill.”
Yet Prime Minister Netanyahu’s health problems have hampered his daily life. A weekly cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday morning has been postponed, and Israeli Army Radio reported that a security assessment on the impact of legal disputes on the military has also been pulled from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s schedule.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said Netanyahu was sedated during the implantation surgery and was deputized by Supreme Deputy Minister of Justice Yariv Levin during the procedure. The mastermind behind the overhaul is Levin, a close aide to the prime minister.
In a short pre-embedded video statement, Netanyahu said he was “feeling very good”, adding that he intended to push for judicial reforms upon his release and expected to be released in time for the Knesset vote on Monday.
Lawmakers are set to vote on a sweeping bill that would limit the Supreme Court’s oversight powers by banning judges from overriding government decisions on the grounds that they are “unreasonable.” Monday’s vote will be the first major bill to be approved.
Proponents argue that the current “rationality” standard gives judges too much power over the decisions of elected officials. Critics say removing the infrequently invoked standard would allow the government to make arbitrary decisions, make inappropriate appointments and dismissals, and open the door to corruption.
The review also calls for other sweeping changes aimed at curbing judicial powers, from limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to challenge Congressional decisions to changing the way judges are selected.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid addressed parliament, calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume compromise talks and praising the demonstrators who stand up to the government.
“The Israeli government has launched a war of attrition against the Israeli people and has realized that they cannot be crushed. We will not give up on our children’s future,” he said.
Protesters from across Israeli society see the review as a power grab fueled by the personal and political grievances of Netanyahu and his partners, who are on trial for corruption and want to strengthen Israel’s control over the occupied West Bank and perpetuate conscription immunity for controversial ultra-orthodox men.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night, a week after being hospitalized for dehydration by doctors. He was later released after having a device to monitor his heart implanted, but was hospitalized again on Sunday after his heart failed and he needed a pacemaker.
Professor Roy Beinert, Senior Physician and Director of the Davidai Arrhythmia Center at the Heart Institute of Shiva Medical Center, said in a video that the prime minister needed a pacemaker because he experienced a “temporary arrhythmia” or arrhythmia on Saturday evening.
“The transplant went smoothly without any complications. He’s not in a life-threatening condition,” Beinert said. “He’s feeling great and getting back to his normal routine.”
With mounting pressure on Israeli leaders, the number of reservists has surged, and Israel has declared that it will refuse to serve under a government that is taking steps it sees as leading the country on a path to dictatorship. The move has raised concerns that the military’s preparedness will be undermined.
This includes key fighter pilots and ground air force personnel. About 10,000 reservists from across the army announced Saturday night that they, too, were going to stop attending missions. More than 100 retired security officers have publicly supported the increase in reservists, claiming they will stop reporting to duty if the plan is passed.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right allies announced a sweeping reform plan in January, just days after taking office. They argue that the plan is necessary to curb what they claim is the excessive powers of unelected judges. Critics say the plan will destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and set it on the path to authoritarian rule. US President Joe Biden has called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt the plan and seek a broader deal.
Prime Minister Netanyahu suspended sweeping reforms in March after the country grounded flights and partially shut down the economy under intense pressure from protesters and workers’ strikes. He said the government was reviewing the deal after talks to find a compromise failed.
Netanyahu has a busy schedule and his office says he is in good health. But over the years, few details about his health or medical records have been made public.
Pacemakers are used when a patient’s heart beats too slowly and can cause fainting, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can also be used to treat heart failure. This device keeps a person’s heartbeat in a normal rhythm by sending electrical pulses to the heart. Patients with pacemakers often return to normal activity within days, according to the NIH. At least one day of hospitalization is usually required.
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https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-israels-netanyahu-recovers-from-heart-procedure-while-tensions-surge-over-judicial-overhaul-plan/ Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recovers from heart surgery, judicial reform plan moves forward | Wagon Radio 720