New demonstrations have erupted in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delaying his controversial reforms to the judiciary.
Horns were heard blaring as the authorities used water cannon to try to keep protesters at bay.
Earlier, Mr Netanyahu said his country was in the “heart of a crisis”.
Addressing the nation following widespread protests involving hundreds of thousands of people, he said he would “turn over every stone” to find a solution.
“From a will to prevent the rift in the nation, I have decided to delay the second and third reading (of the bill) in order to reach a broad consensus,” he said.
He also warned, however, that Israel is “at a dangerous crossroads”.
Israel’s main labour union called off a national stoppage shortly after his address. “The strike that I announced this morning will end,” said Arnon Bar-Da, chairman of the Histadrut labour federation.
He also offered his help in seeking a compromise.
Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, said that stopping the legislation was the right thing to do and the broadest possible agreement was required.
Former deputy prime minister Benny Gantz said he would approach dialogue with an “open heart”.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly welcomed the decision to pause the legislation and said it was “vital that the shared democratic values that underpin that (UK-Israel) relationship are upheld”.
People attending a demonstration in Jerusalem
Under the proposals, ministers would have more control over the appointments of judges, including to the Supreme Court, while diminishing that body’s ability to veto legislation or rule against the government.
Earlier, Mr Netanyahu’s coalition partners revealed a delay had been agreed.
The potential overhaul will not now be discussed in parliament until next month, said coalition member party Jewish Power.
The idea is to “pass the reform through dialogue”, the party said in a statement.
Benjamin Netanyahu (right) attends a meeting at the Knesset on Monday
Its leader, security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, said he had agreed to delay the government’s plans in exchange for a promise that they would be brought back after the forthcoming parliamentary recess.
“I agreed to remove the veto to reject the legislation in exchange for a commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the legislation would be submitted to the Knesset for approval in the next session,” Mr Ben-Gvir said.
Mr Netanyahu’s sacking of his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, for objecting to the reforms sparked huge demonstrations in major towns.
It prompted Mr Herzog – a head of state who is supposed to remain above politics – to call on Mr Netanyahu to stop the legislative process, saying: “Come to your senses!”
Mr Herzog said the “eyes of the whole world are on you” following the PM’s dismissal of Mr Gallant on Sunday.
All flights were grounded at Ben Gurion Airport, the country’s main international hub, after the head of the Israel Airports Authority workers’ committee announced a strike.
Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the Israeli army’s chief of staff, said this period of time is “different to any that we have known before”.
He added: “We have not known such days of external threats coalescing, while a storm is brewing at home.”
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.