Judicial reform stalled in Israel after long protests, know full story

Benjamin Netanyahu

New Delhi: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his ‘Judicial Reform Law’ for the time being amidst continuous protests. By “temporarily” withdrawing the law, Netanyahu said on Monday he was giving his opponents a “real opportunity for dialogue”. Demonstrations against this law have been going on for almost three months against the law that controls the powers of the Supreme Court in the country. At the beginning of March, protests were also seen within the country’s army.

What is happening with the ‘Judicial Reform Law’ in Israel?
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been facing public outcry over controversial judicial law reforms, announced on Monday that the laws were temporarily suspended. Otzma Yehudit, who is part of the ruling coalition, has told that PM Netanyahu has given his consent to postpone these laws.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he has ordered a temporary stay on the controversial law until after the parliament recess to give real opportunities. He said that when there is an option to avoid civil war through dialogue, then I take out time for dialogue… It is a national responsibility.

Has the law stopped due to global pressure?
Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke to the Prime Minister on Monday. The President explained to the Prime Minister that today the eyes of the world are on us. For the responsibility of the unity of the country, I request you to stay in the judicial process. Apart from this, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke to Netanyahu. He says that I have urged the Prime Minister to stop the changes being made in the judicial system. Also, reinstate the sacked Defense Minister.

What are the judicial reforms that are being opposed?
Israel’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin proposed amendments to the judicial system in the first week of January this year. Through amendments to the judicial system, the government is trying to reform Supreme Court nominees through a review committee and giving Parliament the right to reject Supreme Court decisions.

Under a new law proposed by the Netanyahu government, a Supreme Court ruling would be overturned by a simple majority of 61 MPs in the 120-seat Israeli parliament. The proposed reform would also change the system through which judges are appointed. This would give politicians more control over the judiciary.

What is the opinion of those opposing?
The plan for the ‘Judicial Reforms’ law was presented by Justice Minister Yariv Levin on January 4 last. The opposition called it an attempt to strangle the Supreme Court. There is no written constitution in Israel, so the Supreme Court is considered to have an important role in maintaining balance in the governance system there. While an opinion was formed regarding the proposed law that through this an attempt is being made to bring the Supreme Court to par with the government and the Parliament.

At the same time, Israel’s former Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized this move of the government and termed it a humiliating and corrupt law. Lapid said that Netanyahu is only trying to save his chair. The judiciary here is also opposing the new law brought by the Netanyahu government. Esther Hyatt, President of the Supreme Court, says that these amendments are an unbridled assault on the legal system. This shows that the government intends to strike a fatal blow at the independence of the judicial system.

Since when is the protest happening?
The series of public protests in Israel has been going on for three months. The protests have generally been peaceful. Over the months the number of people participating in these went on increasing. This had a bad effect on the normal life of Israel. Meanwhile, on the night of January 14, thousands of people protested in Tel Aviv against proposed changes to Israel’s judicial system. During this, the protesters compared him to Russian President Putin. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu was opposed not only in Tel Aviv but also in Jerusalem. The number of people gathered to protest against the government was about 80 thousand.

Protests continued in Israel over a proposal for a new law governing the powers of the Supreme Court. On January 21, more than a million people took to the streets of Tel Aviv against it. Thousands of people took out such rallies in several cities of the country, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, and Herzliya.

Demonstrations took place in 20 cities of Israel in February
In the first week of February, crowds waving Israeli flags blocked central Kalpan Street. The protesters termed Israel’s new government as a threat to world peace. According to local media, thousands of people demonstrated in Israel’s Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, and several cities in the country, including Herzliya and Tel Aviv. Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also participated in the protests in Haifa. He said that ‘we will save our country because we do not want to live in an undemocratic country’.

Military officers also protested in March
The Israeli army also came out in support in early March in a protest that had been going on for several months. Almost all reserve members of the fighter jet squadrons of the Air Force had announced not to attend their proposed training sessions. membership claimed that they took this step in protest against the government’s plan to reduce the power of the country’s judiciary.

Defense minister’s sacking sparks protest
Amid protests, on Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his government’s defense minister, Yoav Galant. Since then, the anger of the people there increased further. Protesters also gathered outside Netanyahu’s house in Jerusalem. Due to the commotion, police, and army personnel used water cannons on the protesters. The protesters accused the Prime Minister that the tussle between the judges and the government was a threat to democracy. The Prime Minister surrounded by a corruption case is trying to save himself from jail.

What is the stand of the government?
During a recent interview, PM Netanyahu said, ‘I am not destroying democracy, but trying to improve it.’ Netanyahu insisted that keeping things as they are would be an undemocratic option. He further said, ‘When you vote for a government, you want that government to rule. Right now, the government’s powers to rule are restricted.