News World The Netanyahu government advances with its judicial reform

The Netanyahu government advances with its judicial reform

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was moving forward today with its controversial plans to reform Israel’s judicial system, which won approval in the first of three votes in parliament, despite strong rejection expressed in mass protests and warnings from business leaders and of its ally the United States.

The initiative was approved at midnight in Israel with 63 votes in favor and 47 against, with no abstentions, after a day of “fierce protests and belligerent speeches,” according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

The project returns to the Constitution, Law and Justice Commission for the preparation of the two remaining debates, which are scheduled for the end of March.

Thousands of people demonstrated this Monday in front of the Knesset (parliament) headquarters in Jerusalem in rejection of the initiative before the deputies carried out the vote.

Netanyahu and his allies, a collection of ultra-religious and ultra-nationalist parties, say that The plan seeks to improve a system that gives too much say to courts and government legal advisers in how laws are made and decisions are made.

Critics say it will upset the country’s system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of the prime minister. They also accuse Netanyahu, who is on trial on a series of corruption charges, of conflict of interest.

The standoff has plunged Israel into one of its biggest internal crises, sharpening the division among Israelis over the character of their state and the values ​​they believe should guide it.

While the process is expected to take months, the vote is a sign of the coalition’s determination to press on, seen by many as an act of bad faith.

The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, who has an essentially protocol role, has urged the government to freeze the project and seek a compromise with the opposition.

Leaders of Israel’s burgeoning tech sector have warned that weakening the judiciary could scare off investors. Tens of thousands of Israelis have been protesting in Tel Aviv and other cities every week.

Last week, some 100,000 people demonstrated in front of Parliament the day a commission gave initial approval to the plan. It was the biggest protest in the city in years.

This Monday, thousands of people demonstrated again in front of the Legislative Branch, waving Israeli flags and holding signs that read “Saving Democracy!”.

Earlier, protesters staged sit-ins outside the homes of some lawmakers from the ruling coalition and blocked traffic on Tel Aviv’s main highway.

Hundreds of protesters waved Israeli flags in Tel Aviv and also in the northern city of Haifa, holding banners reading “resistance is mandatory.”

The reform reduces the influence of the Judiciary by introducing a clause that allows Parliament to overturn by a simple majority some decisions of the Supreme Court.

The bill also proposes changes to the appointment process for Supreme Court judges and a reduction in the powers of legal advisers within ministries.

“The state is in danger,” declared today Dvir Bar, a protester 45-year-old who came to the protest from Holon, in central Israel.

The project “is a coup attempt to transform Israel into a dictatorship”, he added in statements to the AFP news agency.

For Netanyahu and his Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, however, the proposal is necessary to rebalance the relations of force between the deputies and the Court before a court that they consider to be politicized.

In north Tel Aviv, some 4,000 parents of primary school students demonstrated with their children alongside the teachers.

The police announced the arrest of eight activists who tried to block access to some highways and to the home of a deputy.

“When the demonstrators try to prevent the deputies from going to vote, it is not a legitimate protest,” Netanyahu criticized today.

Speaking to his cabinet on Sunday, the premier dismissed claims that Israel’s democracy was under threat.

“Israel was and will continue to be a strong and vibrant democracy,” he said.

While Israel has long boasted of its democratic credentials, critics say that claim is tainted by its 55-year occupation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and its treatment of its own Palestinian minority.

The judicial reform plan has even drawn unusual warnings from the United States, Israel’s main international ally.

US Ambassador Tom Nides said in a podcast over the weekend that Israel should “stop” the project and agree to reform that would protect Israel’s democratic institutions.



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