Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday underwent a successful pacemaker implantation procedure, a surgery scheduled just days before the Knesset is set to vote on a controversial judicial reform bill.
Netanyahu, 73, got the pacemaker a week after he was hospitalised for dehydration and had a heart monitoring device implanted.
The surgery took place early Sunday morning at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the operation was completed successfully, that he was feeling good and that he was expected to be discharged Sunday.
Earlier, Netanyahu announced on Twitter he would be fitted with the device, which sends electrical pulses to the heart.
The Prime Minister's office said that he was sedated during the surgery and the Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Yariv Levin served as acting prime minister while Nethanyahu's surgery.
The announcement also came when the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was set to begin debating the bill on Sunday morning, ahead of its second and third — and final — readings, expected Monday or Tuesday.
The legislation, part of the wider plan to overhaul the judiciary, has drawn intense opposition, with hundreds of thousands protesting and many setting up a tent city near the Knesset, while some 10,000 reservists have said they will halt their volunteer duty if it passes into law.
The weekly cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday morning was delayed to a yet-unknown time. Also postponed were key security discussions — including a reported planned meeting between the premier and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi — on the impact of the “reasonableness” bill and the reservists’ threats on Israel’s security, the report added.
Thousands of marchers arrived in Jerusalem Saturday, the culmination of a five-day walk from Tel Aviv to protest against Netanyahu’s plans to weaken the powers of Israel’s courts.
The Knesset on Sunday will begin on a bill that would strip the Supreme Court of the power to declare government decisions “unreasonable,” removing one of the few checks on the government in a country that has no written Constitution.
Further ratcheting up the pressure on Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, is trying to delay the vote after more than 1,000 Air Force reserve officers threatened to stop volunteering if the bill passed.
Netanyahu heads an unprecedentedly hardline Israeli coalition government, which has sparked more than six months of internal opposition over its plans to overhaul the judiciary.
The legislation to block judicial scrutiny over the “reasonableness” of politicians’ decisions is the first overhaul bill to advance since Netanyahu temporarily froze the legislative blitz in late March. The Knesset breaks for summer recess at the end of the month.
Netanyahu, who is also in the midst of a protracted corruption trial, has been charged with three counts of fraud and breach of trust and one of bribery. He denies all the allegations and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt.
A pacemaker is a device that stimulates one’s heart to control or increase the heartbeat if it is too slow or irregular. Implanting usually takes several hours and recipients are typically discharged from the hospital the same day or the next day, according to the US hospital Mayo Clinic and Britain’s National Health Service.