EconomyFirstFT: Netanyahu retreats on judicial overhaul after protests in...

FirstFT: Netanyahu retreats on judicial overhaul after protests in Israel


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Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government delayed bitterly contested plans yesterday to overhaul Israel’s judiciary after plunging the country into its biggest crisis in years.

The prime minister caved to public pressure following Israel’s largest protests in more than a decade after he sacked his defence minister for criticising the reforms. Dissent rippled through the country’s institutions and economy as tens of thousands of people flooded the streets and banks, ports, embassies and even Ben Gurion Airport suspended services.

Although the concession prompted unions to call off a strike, demonstrations continued yesterday night, with organisers warning that they would continue until the changes were finally rejected.

The overhaul would give Netanyahu’s government and its allies more control over the appointment of judges and limit the top court’s ability to strike down laws. Supporters say the changes are needed to rein in an activist leftwing judiciary, while critics see the overhaul as a fundamental threat to Israel’s checks and balances.

The State of Israel is injured and hurting,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said after Netanyahu’s partial climbdown. “We don’t need to put a plaster over the injuries but to treat them properly.”

Here are other events I’m keeping track of today:

  • Banking turmoil: Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey faces questions from MPs on the Treasury Committee over HSBC’s purchase of Silicon Valley Bank UK, while US regulators will be grilled by Congress on bank failures there.

  • Results: Bellway, Jefferies, Ocado and Wood report. See our Week Ahead newsletter for the full list.

  • FT Live: Don’t miss our event on Reforming the European Electricity Market. Attend in Brussels or online by registering here.

What did you think of today’s FirstFT? Let us know at firstft@ft.com. Thanks for reading.

Five more top stories

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey © Leon Neal/Getty Images

1. Financial turmoil will not affect the Bank of England’s push to curb inflation with high interest rates, the central bank’s governor Andrew Bailey said yesterday, adding that the UK financial system was “resilient, with robust capital and liquidity positions, and well placed to support the economy”.

  • US congressional hearing: The Federal Reserve’s top banking supervision official is expected to tell Congress that Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse was a “textbook case of mismanagement” and to propose tighter banking rules.

2. China granted $104bn in bailouts as its Belt and Road Initiative faltered following a series of debt write-offs, scandals and corruption claims. A study has found that its rescue loans to developing countries between 2019 and the end of 2021 totalled almost as much as its bailout lending in the previous two decades.

3. The Middle East and north Africa saw a record 51 initial public offerings last year and raised $22bn, a 179 per cent increase on 2021 and in sharp contrast with Europe’s moribund market. Read more about why the region is on the “radar” of global investors.

4. The value of second-hand Tesla cars has collapsed since the electric-vehicle maker embarked on a series of price cuts for new models in the past six months, according to sales data. Here’s how much a new Model 3 bought in January could be worth in a year.

5. Generative AI systems such as ChatGPT could affect 300mn jobs across major economies and spark a productivity boom that would eventually raise annual global gross domestic product by 7 per cent over a decade. Here are the professions at greatest risk of redundancy according to the Goldman Sachs study.

News in-depth

Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes
Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes © FT Montage/Getty

Humza Yousaf told Scottish National party members yesterday he felt like the “luckiest man in the world”, but the feeling may not last as the party’s newly — and narrowly — elected leader faces a daunting in-tray of healing party divisions, fixing public services and charting a path to Scottish independence.

We’re also reading . . .

Chart of the day

Shortages of fruit and vegetables helped push UK food inflation to a record high in March. Annual food inflation reached 15 per cent, up from 14.5 per cent in February and the highest since records began in 2005.

Line chart of Annual % change showing The British Retail Consortium reports accelerating food inflation

Take a break from the news

Everyone loves a snack before a meal, but Italians do them best. From crostini to fried courgette flowers, here are six antipasti recipes from Ravinder Bhogal, chef-patron of Jikoni.

Italian antipasti

Additional contributions by David Hindley and Amanda Chu

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