New Reform Passes Despite Multiple Warnings and Nationwide Protests

New Reform Passes in Israel Despite Multiple Warnings and Nationwide Protests

( – At the end of December, Benjamin Netanyahu was once again sworn in as Israel’s prime minister. The leader had been out of office for about a year when his party won a majority. He’s now overseeing the most far-right, religiously conservative government the country has ever had.

A month after Netanyahu took office, Justice Minister Yariv Levin introduced reforms to remake the judicial system. Protests broke out nationwide, and the US spoke out against the bills. In July, they were brought forward again, and this time, they passed.

Judicial Reforms

Levin’s reforms will strictly limit the High Court of Justice’s authority. The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) could re-legislate laws with just 61 lawmakers if the high court manages to strike them down. The government will have complete control over the appointment of judges, including justices for the Supreme Court, and limit the high court’s ability to strike down unconstitutional legislation. The government would appoint a Supreme Court president and vice president who have not served on the high court.

The legislature also passed MK Simcha Rothman’s bill that strips the high court of its ability to intervene when the government makes decisions justices believe are “not reasonable.” He claimed the court always determines conservative policies are unreasonable, sarcastically saying, “Whenever we decide, it becomes not reasonable.” Netanyahu supports the judicial reform but claims he won’t let any party have complete control of the Supreme Court.

Critics Slam Conservative Government

Netanyahu will stand trial for fraud in the coming months. Critics have accused him of trying to pass judicial reform to eliminate the case against him. Yair Lapid, the Leader of the Opposition, tweeted the passage of the reforms was “an unprecedented show of weakness” by the prime minister, calling him a “puppet on a string of messianic extremists.”

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to protest the overhaul. They believe Netanyahu’s government is undermining the country’s democracy. Police officers in Jerusalem arrested almost 40 people on July 24.

Thousands of doctors walked off of their jobs to protest the law. Labor leaders are calling for strikes. The country’s top newspapers opposed the bill by covering their front pages in black ink, except for the words, “A black day for Israeli democracy.”

Movement for Quality Government announced it intended to challenge the law in the country’s Supreme Court.

The White House called it “unfortunate” that the Israeli government ratified the law. President Joe Biden’s administration reiterated its concerns about the overhaul.

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