Israeli PM Netanyahu delays judicial reform vote amid protests and strikes

Netanyahu's goal is to expand the Israeli parliament's legislative authority by curbing the power of the Supreme Court. On Sunday, he sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had requested a pause in the reforms.

Israeli PM Netanyahu delays judicial reform vote amid protests and strikes
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to postpone a vote on far-reaching judicial reforms until the summer, following a wave of protests and strikes across the country.

Reports indicate that labor unions and university workers planned a nationwide strike on Monday, after protests erupted in response to Netanyahu's dismissal of a cabinet member who opposed his efforts to limit the power of the Supreme Court, the Daily Wire reported.

A tweet from Channel 12 on Monday stated, "Netanyahu and [Itamar] Ben Gvir agreed – the legislation will be postponed until the summer conference."

Ben Gvir is a conservative member of the Knesset and leader of the Otzma Yehudit party, which forms part of the coalition that reinstated Netanyahu as Prime Minister in December.

Netanyahu's goal is to expand the Israeli parliament's legislative authority by curbing the power of the Supreme Court. On Sunday, he sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had requested a pause in the reforms.

Leftist protesters, who view these changes as a threat to Israeli democracy, responded by blocking streets, bridges, and setting fires on roadways.

Those critical of Israel's Supreme Court argue that it wields excessive power and lacks accountability to the people. The proposed reforms, which have stirred controversy in Israel, would introduce checks and balances between the legislative and judicial branches, akin to the US system. Unlike the US, Israel does not have a written constitution.

Under the proposed changes, the parliament would play a greater role in selecting judges and could override Supreme Court decisions that overturn laws. The high court would also be required to apply the law to cases, rather than rely on its own "reasonability" test.

Despite previously vowing to stand firm on the reform push, Netanyahu appears to have conceded due to Gallant's opposition, protests, and the threat of a potentially debilitating strike. Gallant was dismissed after delivering a speech in which he called for the suspension of the reform effort, citing risks to Israel's security. This concern seemingly stems from some reserve members of the Israeli Defense Forces reportedly threatening to halt training if the proposal is not withdrawn.

Other Israeli officials, including President Isaac Herzog, have also called for a pause in the legislative process.

Herzog took to Facebook a week ago, urging the Prime Minister to halt the proceedings, stating, "For the sake of the unity of Israelis, for the sake of committed responsibility I call on you to halt the legislative procedure immediately."

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  • By David Menzies

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