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Israel judicial overhaul plan backfires at PM Netanyahu; agrees to delay his plan

Netanyahu’s government pledged to forge ahead with a parliamentary vote this week on a centrepiece of the overhaul — a law that would give the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Jerusalem Updated on: March 27, 2023 21:20 IST
Israel's judicial overhaul plans triggered massive protests.
Image Source : AP Israel's judicial overhaul plans triggered massive protests.

In a major development, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday, delayed the process for discussions on the controversial planned judicial overhaul to next month.

Notably, Israel has been moving towards a political crisis for the past few weeks after Netanyahu announced his plans to make judicial reforms in the country. The situation turned grave on Saturday following Netanyahu's decision to fire his Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, who spoke against his contentious plans to overhaul the justice system.

According to a report by BBC, the Prime Minister summoned Gallant to a meeting on Saturday and told him he no longer had faith in him as defence minister. In fact, Gallant had been the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against it, saying the deep divisions were threatening to weaken the military. This triggered outrage among the citizens who were already protesting against Netanyahu's plans. 

The protests turned more grave on Saturday night when millions of people thronged the streets in the national capital, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This prompted the PM to suspend his program to address the nation on state television. 

President Isaac Herzog also took to the microblogging site and appealed to the leader to drop his plans for the sake of Israel. "For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately," he wrote on Twitter. However, this hardly would make any impact on Netanyahu, amid the fact the post of president in the country is just ceremonial.

Why is Israel boiling?

Netanyahu’s government pledged to forge ahead with a parliamentary vote this week on a centrepiece of the overhaul — a law that would give the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. A parliamentary committee approved the legislation on Monday for a final vote.

The government also seeks to pass laws that would grant the Knesset, as Israel’s parliament is called, the authority to overturn Supreme Court decisions and limit judicial review of laws.

A separate overhaul law that would circumvent a Supreme Court ruling to allow a key coalition ally to serve as minister was being delayed following a request from that party’s leader.

Is Netanyahu plotting an escape?

Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore a balance between the judicial and executive branches and rein in what they see as an interventionist court with liberal sympathies.

But critics say the laws will remove Israel’s system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of the governing coalition. They also say that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest because of his corruption trial.

Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate affairs involving wealthy associates and powerful media moguls. He denies wrongdoing and has dismissed accusations that the legal overhaul is designed to find him an escape route from the trial.

Netanyahu returned to power late last year after a protracted political crisis that sent Israelis to the polls five times in less than four years. The elections were all a referendum on Netanyahu’s fitness to serve while on trial for corruption.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Saudi Arabia deal with Iran worries Israel, shakes up Middle East | Know Why

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