Israel faced one of the biggest protests yet on Saturday in opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s attempt to overhaul the country’s judicial system that critics say weakens the judiciary and gives lawmakers more power.
Protests have broken out in Tel Aviv every Saturday night for the past eight weeks in opposition to the Israeli government’s attempt to weaken the court. Protesters referred to Netanyahu as the country’s “Crime Minister,” which was a nod to the prime minister, who is on trial for corruption and would personally benefit from these reforms.
Some protesters broke through police barricades and blocked roads and set a fire on the Ayalon Highway, Ynet reported. At least 21 people were arrested. Estimates said about 160,000 people attended the protest.
Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister, spoke at the protest and said the reform represents “an assassination of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, a move certain to turn Israel into a dictatorship.”
Yariv Levin, the justice minister, wants lawmakers to be able to override Supreme Court decisions. The country’s judges are currently nominated by other judges, but Levin wants the Knesset to take over these nominations. The Knesset would also be able to overrule court decisions with a simple majority.
The Knesset voted 63 to 47 last week and passed the first reading of the first bill of the government’s proposed judicial reform, the report said.
Netanyahu, once again, accused the protest organizers of trying to “sow anarchy.”
A poll for the Israel Democracy Institute found last week that about 53 percent of Israelis believed that removing the political independence of the judiciary would harm the economy, CNN reported.
The report said the survey found that 65 percent of Israelis believe the Supreme Court should have the power to strike down laws “incompatible with Israel’s Basic Laws, and about the same proportion (63 percent) say they support the current system of nominating judges.”
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on Netanyahu’s hardline government which is seen as a threat to the Palestinian people and the tenuous peace in the region. (See “UN TAKES TO RULE ON ISRAEL SETTLEMENTS OF PALESTINIANS TERRITORIES” 10 Jan 2023, “LARGE-SCALE PROTESTS BREAK OUT IN ISRAEL OVER NETANYAHU’S ‘REFORM’ PLANS” 17 Jan 2023, and “NETANYAHU’S COALITION MAKES DEAL WITH CONVICTED RACIST TO STAMP DOWN PALESTINIANS” 29 Nov 2022.)
Indeed, we have reported that Netanyahu’s fragile coalition is considered the country’s most “hardline” in history, which is comprised of members who are anti-gay and civil liberties. Tensions with Palestinians are at a tipping point. Israel has killed 57 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the year.
Netanyahu has indicated that he has been tapped by his voters to make these judicial reforms and said jettisoning these proposals now would betray the public’s trust.
“We will complete legislating the reforms in a way that will correct what needs correcting, will totally protect individual rights, and will restore the public’s faith in the justice system that so much requires this reform,” Netanyahu said.