Israel, protests and clashes scare Netanyahu: Prime Minister speaks to nation

Protests break out in Israel and, on the most violent day with clashes, injuries and strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surrenders and speaks to the nation announcing that he wants to freeze justice reform. The proposed overhaul of the system has sparked the biggest protests in Israel in decades and has now caused a deep political divide. One text, that of reform, put forward by the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, Netanyahu’s Likud party colleague, and by the Zionist deputy Simcha Rothman, who chairs the Knesset’s commission for law and justice.

Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Jewish Power party, a member of Israel’s ruling coalition, announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will postpone the debate on judicial reform to the next session of the Knesset, which will take a break for next week’s holiday. Easter week and will meet again in early May, and that in exchange for Ben Gvir’s support for the postponement, a ‘national guard’ will be formed under the control of his Ministry of National Security. Israeli media reported this. At the moment, Netanyahu has not released any statement on the matter.

Among the most contested measures is the one according to which the Supreme Court’s power to review or reject laws would be weakened: a simple majority in Parliament would be enough to annul Supreme Court decisions, underlines the BBC. The Knesset is made up of 120 seats: according to the proposal, with 61 votes, that is, with just one margin of difference, it would be possible to annul almost all Supreme Court rulings.

Another contentious issue is what would allow politicians to appoint most judges. The government would have a decisive influence on those who become judges on the Federal Supreme Court as well, increasing their representation on the commission that appoints them.

Critics of the plan argue that the reform is intended to shield Netanyahu, currently on trial for corruption and who has always denied the allegations, and help the Executive pass laws more easily. In a country where the president does not have the power to refer laws to Parliament, the latter is unicameral and there is no written constitution, the Supreme Court plays a role of ‘check and balance’. If, even after the text freeze, the reform plan were to proceed in its current form, the Guardian points out that Israel would likely find itself in an unprecedented constitutional crisis, in which the Supreme Court could overturn some or all of the laws intended to limit its powers and the government could choose not to comply with it.

Source: IL Tempo