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McDonald’s Israel shuts branches, as workers join general strike against judicial reforms

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 3/27/2023 Anviksha Patel
© ahmad gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

McDonald’s said it was joining the general strike in Israel on Monday as workers spanning multiple sectors walk out over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial reforms.

The fast food chain tweeted on Monday that it would begin to close restaurants from 12 p.m. (5 a.m. EST) until a total shutdown by 2 p.m.

McDonald’s operates 226 kosher and non-kosher restaurants across the country.

The strike is planned by trade union group Histadrut, which represents nearly 800,000 workers in sectors such as health, transit and banking. Flights departing from Ben Gurion Airport have also been grounded as workers join the strikes, affecting thousands of travelers. Doctors and seaport workers are also part of the walkout.

Histadrut also instructed all government employees to go on strike, including consulates around the world according to Elad Strohmayer, spokesman of the Israeli Embassy to the U.S. He tweeted on Monday that the U.S. embassy will be closed “until further notice.”

Tensions have been rising in the wake of the far-right government’s judicial reforms, which plan to slash the Supreme Court’s powers to strike down laws, allow the government more power on selecting Supreme Court judges and pass a law allowing the right-wing coalition government to override the high court’s rulings.

But over the weekend the protests swelled, with tens of thousands of people taking to Tel Aviv’s streets after Netanyahu fired his Defence Minister Yoav Galant on Sunday. Galant broke rank, publicly calling for a pause to the government reforms on Saturday citing security concerns. The longtime ally of Netanyahu urged that the legislative process be halted for a month.

“The growing social rift has made its way into the [army] and security agencies. It is a clear, immediate and tangible threat to Israel’s security,” he said.

Chanting “the country is on fire,” protestors lit bonfires on Tel Aviv’s main highway, closing the throughway and many others throughout the country for hours. Thousands of protesters were gathering Monday outside the Knesset, or parliament, in a bid to ramp up the pressure on the government.

Histadrut  also announced that the Tel Aviv stock exchange will close on Tuesday, but the Israeli shekel rose 0.83% against the dollar on Monday to $0.2807 on the hopes that Netanyahu’s reforms will be delayed.

Read: This macro fund ‘tactically’ went long the Israeli shekel on the planned judicial reforms

The article contains additional reporting by AP.


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