(Jerusalem) Opponents of justice reform in Israel on Tuesday greeted with suspicion Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement the day before of a “ pause ” in this project which deeply divides the country, everything still remains to be done to allow an exit of crisis.

The Prime Minister “was able to turn a bitter defeat into a draw with pretty words”, writes Nahum Barnea, columnist for the daily Yediot Aharonot.

“Whatever he says or will say, few people believe him, I believe that confidence in him is not great, including among the right-wing demonstrators who came by the thousands yesterday”, continues Mr. Barnea, in reference to a first counter-demonstration held Monday evening in Jerusalem by supporters of the reform.

The justice reform project has been denounced in the streets since its announcement in early January by one of the most right-wing governments in Israel, and has given rise to one of the largest popular mobilization movements in the country.

After a day of intensified protest and the appearance of tensions within the majority, Mr. Netanyahu announced in a speech Monday evening that he had “ decided on a pause ” in the examination of the project, in order to give ” a chance for real dialogue ” with a view to having a more consensual text adopted during the summer parliamentary session to open on April 30.

Reacting quickly to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement, the two main opposition leaders, the centrists Yaïr lapid and Benny Gantz, said they were ready to discuss with the government, but under the aegis of the president, who has been trying to mediate since weeks, and while warning the government against any deception.

Alluding to the bill on the composition of the commission responsible for selecting judges, one of the most contested aspects of the reform, the parties of MM. Lapid and Gantz warned in a joint statement on Tuesday that they would “immediately” leave the negotiating table if this text “is put on Parliament’s agenda”.

While both parties have nominated their representatives for talks with the government, no announcement from the Likud side has been made.

And no date has yet been set for the start of these talks. According to an official statement, Mr. Netanyahu just mentioned Tuesday “the objective of reaching an agreement”, during a meeting with the employees of his office.

For the government, the reform aims to rebalance powers by reducing the prerogatives of the Supreme Court, which the executive considers politicized, in favor of Parliament.

Its detractors believe, on the contrary, that the reform risks leading to an illiberal or authoritarian drift.

On Tuesday, several political commentators were skeptical of Mr. Netanyahu’s intentions.

His announcement on Monday evening was preceded by lengthy negotiations with his far-right partners, including Homeland Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who the press said had threatened to quit the government if reform stalled. .

Mr. Ben Gvir’s party announced before Mr. Netanyahu’s statement the signing of an agreement between the two men, granting the minister new prerogatives, in particular the creation of a civilian “ national guard ” under his authority, and on which no details have yet been communicated.

“ It’s a victory for the protesters, but the one who really made Netanyahu give in and trampled on him was Itamar Ben Gvir […], he obtained from him an outrageous promise: the creation of a militia which will be under his orders,” denounced Yossi Verter, Haaretz’s political correspondent, on the front page of the left-wing daily on Tuesday.

For Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Institute for Democracy, “this is a ceasefire perhaps to regroup, reorganize and then, potentially, charge forward”.

And several members of the ruling coalition assure that the reform will be voted on in the long term.

Thus, the Minister of Finance, Betzalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, assured Monday after Mr. Netanyahu’s speech that “reform (would) advance and the necessary changes in the judicial system and the Israeli democracy to come”.

One of the collectives behind the protests against the reform announced the continuation of the protest “as long as the judicial coup is not completely stopped”.

Two polls broadcast Monday evening on Israeli television show a loss of confidence in Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, which would lose 7 seats in the event of an election while the ruling coalition has only a narrow majority in Parliament, with 64 deputies (out of 120).