Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “doing excellently” after surgery to fit a pacemaker ahead of a key parliamentary vote on his controversial judicial overhaul plan.
Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday that the 73-year-old leader would be discharged on Monday. Thanking well-wishers and the team that treated him in hospital, Netanyahu said in a video statement: “As you can see, I am doing excellently.”
“We are pursuing efforts to complete the legislation, as well as efforts to do this through consensus, but in any event, I want you to know that tomorrow morning I’ll be joining my colleagues in the Knesset,” he said, referring to Monday’s vote in the Israeli parliament.
In the video, Netanyahu said that he was outfitted with a monitor after last week’s hospitalisation and that when an alarm beeped late on Saturday, it meant he required a pacemaker right away.
With the country ensnared in its worst domestic crisis in decades, President Isaac Herzog on Sunday met Netanyahu in the hospital treating him in hope of closing the rifts between the religious-nationalist ruling coalition and opposition parties.
“This is an emergency. Agreement must be reached,” Herzog, who mediated fruitless March-June talks, said in a statement.
The Knesset, where Netanyahu wields a comfortable majority, is due on Monday to hold final readings of a bill limiting Supreme Court powers to overrule some government decisions.
It would be the first reform written into law of a package critics fear aims to curb judicial independence, but which Netanyahu – who is on trial on corruption charges he denies – insists are needed for balance among branches of government. “We are pursuing efforts to complete the legislation, as well as efforts to do this through consensus, but in any event I want you to know that tomorrow morning I’ll be joining my colleagues in the Knesset.”
Lawmakers on Sunday began debating the bill, which would amend a law enabling the Supreme Court to void decisions made by the government and ministers it deems “unreasonable”.
Poll results aired by national broadcaster Kan found that 46% of Israelis were opposed to the amendment versus 35% who were in favour and 19% who were undecided.
The Histadrut labour federation proposed a scaled-down version of the bill. Centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid said that could be a basis for new compromise talks, but Netanyahu’s Likud party said it was too close to Lapid’s positions.
The 73-year-old Netanyahu will remain in the hospital for observation for at least the bulk of Sunday because getting a pacemaker implanted ain’t exactly like going for a car wash. A pacemaker is a device that has wires extending into the muscles of your heart. It emits electrical signals periodically to help coordinate how your heart beats. Doctors will have to check to make sure that the pacemaker is working correctly and that there are no complications such as pain or bleeding from the procedure.
How did doctors know that Netanyahu needed “urgent pacemaker implantation?” After all, despite the saying “What does your heart tell you,” your heart can’t actually talk because it doesn’t have a mouth. The warning came from the data generated by a heart monitor that was placed on Netanyahu’s chest about a week prior after signs of dehydration had brought him to the hospital. The heart monitor did exactly that, continuously monitor the electrical signals of his heart.
The arrival of the marchers turned the city’s main entrance into a sea of blue and white Israeli flags as they completed the last leg of a four-day, 45-mile (70km) trek from Tel Aviv to Israel’s parliament.
The demonstrators joined forces with hundreds of other protesters and planned to camp outside the Knesset, ahead of an expected vote on Monday.
Mr Netanyahu and his far-right allies claim the overhaul is needed to curb what they say are the excessive powers of unelected judges.
However, their critics say the plan will destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and put it on the path towards authoritarian rule.
The operation went smoothly “without any complications,” Prof Roy Beinart from the Sheba Medical Center said, adding that Mr Netanyahu was “not in a life-threatening condition”.
His office said Mr Netanyahu would be discharged on Monday, but trips planned to Cyprus and Turkey would be rescheduled.
Mr Netanyahu said he should be well enough to attend parliament after the procedure. The next 48 hours are expected to see a critical vote on his government’s plans for changes to the judiciary. There have been months of protests in Israel over the reforms, which seek to limit the Supreme Court’s powers.
The vote – expected to take place on Monday – will amount to a showdown between the hard-line religious-nationalist coalition and swathes of Israeli society. Parliament began debating the highly contested bill on Sunday.
One by one, Israeli opposition MPs are taking to the floor of the parliament chamber, pleading with the government to ditch its judicial reform plans.
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