Israel's prime minister has said his controversial plans for the judiciary have been paused.
Netanyahu has been forced to put his plans for a judicial overhaul on ice [Getty]
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that his controversial plan to overhaul the judiciary will be paused after mass protests and strikes paralysed the country.
The announcement comes after weeks of protests against the proposed reforms, which are backed by the right but stongly opposed by many Israelis.
Critics argue the legal change will cement Netanyahu's rule and bolster the extreme right's power.
As a general strike was launched in Israel on Monday, with threats of potentially violent counter-protests from the right, Netanyahu said the judiciary reforms would be put on ice, for now.
"Out of a sense of national responsibility, out of a will to prevent a rupture among our people, I have decided to pause the second and third readings of the bill," he said.
He added he would delay consideration of the bill to the next session of parliament which begins in the second half of April.
The US said it welcomed the move, which comes after mounting pressure on Netanyahu from Israel's traditional allies to pause the overhaul.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also "praised" the move, highlighting the importance of "checks and balances" after a visit by the Israeli PM to London last week.
"The UK welcomes the decision today by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pause legislation to reform Israel’s judiciary," Cleverly said in a statement.
"It is vital that the shared democratic values that underpin that (UK-Israel) relationship are upheld, and a robust system of checks and balances are preserved."
Unprecedented protests were launched to counter the extremist coalition from moving forward with the controversial judicial overhaul with airports and other essential infrastructure closed.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday called for an immediate halt to the government's controversial plans, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his defence minister for similar demands and mass protests were held across Israel.
On Monday afternoon, protests are ongoing blocking major highways and occupying city centres, and are due to continue into the evening.
"For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of the necessary responsibility, I call on you to halt the legislative process immediately," Herzog said in a statement.
Protesters have blocked roads, commenced wildcat strikes and shut down major transport links across the country in an attempt to bring the country to a halt.
But with Likud party members saying they may not support the overhaul further in the Knesset, the Israeli government finds itself at a dangerous impasse just three months into office.
The far-right Otzma Yehudit ("Jewish Power") party, which has member of the ruling coalition, has urged Netanyahu to press ahead with legislation while others in the extreme right have threatened counter-protests, or even violence, if the bill is paused.