Israeli Lawmakers Decide To Vote On Weakening The Supreme Court Amid Protests, As Netanyahu Leaves Hospital
Despite six months of street protests, parliamentary maneuvering, compromise talks, and warnings from the White House, Israeli lawmakers decide to vote on weakening the Supreme Court amid protests, as Netanyahu leaves hospital.
Cecilia JonesJul 24, 2023287 Shares35883 Views
Despite six months of street protests, parliamentary maneuvering, compromise talks, and warnings from the White House, Israeli lawmakers decides to vote on weakening Supreme Court amid protests, as Netanyahu leaves hospital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently left the hospital after receiving a pacemaker, continues to push forward with his plans for judicial system overhaul despite the ongoing protests against them.
Proponents of the measures, including Netanyahu and his allies, refer to them as "reforms" and argue that they aim to rebalance powers between the courts, lawmakers, and the government. On the other hand, opponents view the plan as a "coup" that poses a threat to turn Israel into a dictatorship by removing crucial checks on government actions.
Earlier this year, Netanyahu had to temporarily halt the legislative process due to widespread protests and international pressure. However, it seems that the Prime Minister is now resuming efforts to implement the proposed changes.
Despite the sweltering heat, massive crowds of flag-waving demonstrators persisted on Monday, taking over the area surrounding the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. However, their efforts to block access to the building were met with police water cannons, fences, and barbed wire, resulting in at least 12 protesters being arrested by early afternoon, according to the Israel Police.
The Knesset's discussion on the first part of the reform began on Sunday, with numerous lawmakers requesting time to speak, leading to a scheduled 26-hour-long debate.
Despite repeated warnings from US President Joe Biden about the potential erosion of democratic institutions and the risk of undermining US-Israel relations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to push forward with the contentious package.
It is noteworthy that the Biden administration is taking an unusually forceful stance on another country's internal politics, emphasizing the seriousness with which they view the ongoing situation in Israel. As Israel's most crucial ally, the United States' involvement highlights the significance of the matter at hand.
Given the range of threats and challenges confronting Israel right now, it doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this - the focus should be on pulling people together and finding consensus.- US president Joe Biden
During a phone call last week, President Biden directly expressed his concerns to Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the judicial overhaul. Additionally, President Biden invited New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to the Oval Office to emphasize his stance on the matter.
On Monday, the reasonableness bill, aimed at revoking the Supreme Court's authority to declare government decisions as unreasonable, is up for a vote. If passed, it could become law by Monday evening.
The comprehensive judicial overhaul also includes provisions to grant the far-right coalition government increased control over judge appointments and the removal of independent legal advisers from government ministries. However, these aspects of the reform have not progressed as far in the legislative process as the reasonableness bill.
Anticipating potential challenges to the bill, the Israel Bar Association has already announced its preparation for a legal contest, as stated by the lawyers' group on Sunday.
The Bar Council, the executive body of the Israel Bar Association, is convening an emergency meeting to approve the decision of petitioning the Supreme Court to annul the reasonableness law if it is passed on Monday.
In response to the perceived anti-democratic legislative process, the Bar Association has issued a warning that it may shut down as an act of protest. This means the Association would cease providing professional services to its members, but it does not imply a lawyers' strike.
Moreover, the judicial overhaul plan has sparked concerns among military reservists, with over 1,000 Israel Air Force reserve officers pledging to halt volunteering if the bill passes. However, the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces has cautioned reservists against taking such action, emphasizing that no service members have the right to refuse their duty, as stated in an open letter to the military on Sunday.
I call on all reservists, even in these complex days, to separate civil protests from reporting for duty to the security services. The calls to not report for duty harm the IDF and its readiness.- Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Israel’s top military officer
Opponents of the judicial overhaul have been steadfastly demonstrating against the plan since it was announced in January, participating in 29 consecutive Saturday night protests and organizing additional demonstrations on weekdays.
Israeli parliament passes law limiting Supreme Court power amid mass protests
In a remarkable show of determination, thousands of Israelis who oppose the overhaul recently marched from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over five days and joined together in the capital city for a large protest.
Yair Amon, a protester, expressed during the Saturday march that the demonstrations would persist even if the Knesset passes the initial part of the legislation. He asserted that the goal is to protect democracy and hold Benjamin Netanyahu accountable, whom he referred to as a criminal.
Adding to the mounting opposition, a significant business group comprising 150 leading Israeli companies, including shopping malls, supermarkets, real estate agents, and investment firms, staged a strike on Monday in protest of the overhaul. The Israel Business Forum demanded that the government halt the controversial unilateral legislation until further negotiations take place and a broader consensus is reached among all parties involved.
The final vote on the judicial overhaul coincides with Prime Minister Netanyahu facing health challenges. Last Saturday, Netanyahu was initially admitted to the hospital due to dizziness, with some Israeli media reports indicating that he fainted. He was discharged the following day after doctors at the Sheba Medical Center placed a heart monitor.
Subsequently, the Israeli leader was hospitalized again over the weekend, and early Sunday morning, he underwent a procedure to have a pacemaker fitted at Tel Hashomer Hospital. During the surgery, the Prime Minister was sedated, according to a statement from his office.
According to Roy Beinart, director of the Davidai Center for Rhythm Disturbances and Pacing at Sheba Medical Center, Prime Minister Netanyahu had a heart monitor implanted due to a known conduction disorder, also referred to as a heart block. This condition has been known to doctors for many years.
During the weekend, Netanyahu was once again hospitalized, and on early Sunday morning, he underwent the procedure to have a pacemaker fitted, as stated in a statement from his office.
Following the procedure, Netanyahu released a brief video statement on Sunday, assuring the public that he was "doing great" after the operation. In the 25-second video, he expressed gratitude to those who inquired about his well-being and confirmed his plan to join his colleagues in the Knesset on Monday morning for the vote. He was released from the hospital on Monday and proceeded to the Knesset as planned.