World

A pause – not a halt

After hours hidden out of sight and in emergency negotiations with his coalition partners, Benjamin Netanyahu eventually bowed to the inevitable.

As the sun was going down on an extraordinary day in Israel, news emerged that a deal had been struck.

The party of Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would agree to a pause in legislation.

A pause. Not a halt.

Essentially, this is intended to take the steam out of the protests as the country approaches the Passover holiday and the 75th anniversary celebrations next month.

But I don’t think the demonstrators will see it like that.

They will read it as: “We won’t pass the legislation this week, we’ll let things cool down and do it in a few weeks’ time.”

They won’t like that, and they won’t accept it.

The pause does open up a window for dialogue and possible compromise, though. Throughout the growing protests, the opposition has remained united and insisted that the legislation must be halted before they start negotiations.

That opportunity is now.

In return for his support, Mr Netanyahu has reportedly allowed Mr Ben-Gvir, the far-right security minister, to set up a National Guard.

This is interesting for a number of reasons: it again shows us just how beholden Mr Netanyahu is to the far-right in his coalition.

It is also an example of Mr Ben-Gvir’s frustrations that the national police don’t do what he tries to order them to do.

Plus: Who will serve in the National Guard?

This is a victory, of sorts, for the protestors. For 13 weeks, as they’ve taken to the streets in growing numbers, Mr Netanyahu and his allies haven’t budged an inch.

Today, with the walls closing in on them, they were left with no options.

But the fight for Israel’s future is far from over.

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