Israel approves divisive judicial review amid protests

Norman Ray
Norman Ray

Global Courant

LONDON — Israeli lawmakers on Monday approved the key component of a divisive overhaul plan from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Part of the plan — which was presented as a sweeping reform by Netanyahu’s hardline nationalist government — denies the legal system the ability to overturn “unreasonable” government decisions. Critics said it would be a step away from democratic ideals. Supporters said it would regain some power from unelected judges.

Lawmakers opposed to the bill stormed out of the chamber ahead of a vote, which passed the bill by a unanimous vote of 64 to 0. As opponents left the floor, they shouted “shame” and “government of destruction,” officials said a press release announcement of the vote.

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A previously scheduled vote on the revision at the last legislative session of parliament was postponed after the plan sparked nationwide protests.

Israeli security forces clash with protesters during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the judicial overhaul of his nationalist coalition government, in Jerusalem on July 24, 2023.

Ammar Awad/Reuters

Thousands of protesters once again lined the streets around the Knesset, where Israel’s parliament meets in Jerusalem, on Monday. They were met by a heavy police presence. Authorities fired water cannons overnight and led away several protesters on Monday morning.

The masses on the streets just wanted to “overthrow the democratically elected government,” said National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Jewish Power Party. said on Monday.

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An aerial photo shows tents set up during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the judicial overhaul of his nationalist coalition government near the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem on July 24, 2023.

Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters

Protests have been simmering in Israel for months since the planned changes were rolled out in December. Under Netanyahu’s reforms, Knesset lawmakers could override decisions by the country’s highest court, a change many see as an attempt to consolidate power.

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“Without the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets, the legislation would have passed unimpeded,” said opposition leader Yair Lapid. said on Sunday. “I will do everything I can to build a broad consensus for a democratic and strong Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 25, 2023.

Abir Sultan/AP

Netanyahu was released from a hospital on Monday after spending two nights at Sheba Medical Center, where he was fitted with a pacemaker.

President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Netanyahu not to “rush” his plan, adding that it is “more divisive, not less.”

Israeli police detain a protester during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the judicial overhaul of his nationalist coalition government, in Jerusalem on July 24, 2023.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

“Given the range of threats and challenges Israel is currently facing, there is no point in Israeli leaders rushing this – the focus should be on bringing people together and finding consensus,” Biden said in a comment first reported by Axios and confirmed by ABC News.

The two leaders were discussing the bill in March, when it was postponed.

ABC News’ Joe Simonetti, Fritz Farrow, and Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this story.


Israel approves divisive judicial review amid protests

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