Netanyahu’s doctors said on Sunday the procedure had gone smoothly. In a short video statement from the hospital late on Sunday, Netanyahu, 73, said he felt fine and thanked his doctors for his treatment and the public for wishing him well.
Wearing a white dress shirt and dark blazer, Netanyahu said he was pursuing a compromise with his opponents while also preparing for a vote on Monday that would enshrine a key piece of the legislation into law.
“I want you to know that tomorrow morning I’m joining my colleagues at the Knesset,” he said.
The overhaul calls for sweeping changes aimed at curbing the powers of the judiciary, from limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to challenge parliamentary decisions to changing the way judges are selected.
Netanyahu and his far-right allies, a collection of ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, say the changes are needed to curb the powers of unelected judges. Their opponents, coming largely from Israel’s professional middle class, say the plan will destroy the country’s fragile system of checks and balances and push Israel towards authoritarian rule.
The plan has triggered seven months of mass protests, drawn harsh criticism from business and medical leaders, and a fast-rising number of military reservists in key units have said they will stop reporting for duty if the plan passes, raising concern that Israel’s security could be threatened.
President Herzog, who returned on Sunday from a trip to the White House, immediately rushed to Netanyahu’s hospital room.
“This is a time of emergency,” Herzog said. “We have to reach an agreement.”
Herzog held meetings later on Sunday with Israel’s opposition leader, Yair Lapid, and Benny Gantz, head of National Unity, another opposition party.
As they spoke, tens of thousands of people were gathering for mass rallies for and against the plan. Netanyahu’s supporters thronged in central Tel Aviv – normally the setting for anti-government protests – while his opponents marched on Israel’s Knesset, or parliament.
Many of the protesters in Jerusalem had camped out in a nearby park, after completing a four-day march into the city from Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Despite attempts to project business as usual, Netanyahu’s schedule was disrupted by his hospitalisation. His weekly cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday morning was postponed. Two coming overseas trips, to Cyprus and Turkey, were being rescheduled, his office said.
In Monday’s vote, legislators are to decide on an overhaul measure that would prevent judges from striking down government decisions on the basis that they are “unreasonable”.
Proponents say the current “reasonability” standard gives judges excessive powers over decision-making by elected officials. Critics say removing it would allow the government to pass arbitrary decisions, make improper appointments or firings and open the door to corruption.
Protesters, who come from a wide swath of Israeli society, see the overhaul as a power grab fuelled by personal and political grievances of Netanyahu – who is on trial for corruption charges – and his partners who want to deepen Israel’s control of the occupied West Bank and perpetuate controversial draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men.
Netanyahu was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night a week after being hospitalised for what doctors said was dehydration.
The sudden hospitalisation for the pacemaker procedure indicated that Netanyahu’s health issues were more serious than what he initially said.
Further ratcheting up the pressure on the Israeli leader, thousands of military reservists have been declaring their refusal to serve under a government taking steps that they see as setting the country on a path to dictatorship. Those moves have prompted fears that the military’s preparedness could be compromised.
More than 100 retired security chiefs publicly supported the growing ranks of military reservists who plan to stop reporting for duty if the overhaul is advanced.
“These are dangerous cracks,” military chief Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi wrote in a letter to soldiers on Sunday meant to address the tensions. “If we will not be a strong and cohesive military, if the best do not serve in the IDF, we will no longer be able to exist as a country in the region.”
Netanyahu and his far-right allies announced the overhaul plan in January, days after taking office.
Netanyahu paused the overhaul in March after intense pressure by protesters and labour strikes that halted outgoing flights and shut down parts of the economy. After talks to find a compromise failed last month, he said his government was pressing on with the overhaul.
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