Netanyahu pushes ahead with law overhaul despite outcry

Netanyahu pushes ahead with law overhaul despite outcry

Netanyahu pushes ahead with law overhaul despite outcry

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his government plans to overhaul the country’s justice system, despite fierce criticism from top legal officials and protests over the changes that have drawn protests. tens of thousands of people.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, has made legal changes the centerpiece of his new government’s agenda and growing opposition to them presents an early challenge for the Israeli leader. Opponents say the changes could help Netanyahu escape conviction in his corruption trial, or wipe out the court case altogether.

The overhaul would weaken the power of the Supreme Court, granting lawmakers the ability to pass laws the court has struck down by a simple majority, as well as giving the government greater power over the appointment of judges and limiting the independence of judges. government legal advisers.

Proposed changes sparked outcry from top Supreme Court justice, who in rare reviews called the overhaul a “frantic attack on the justice system.” The country’s attorney general has also spoken out against the plan, as have many of his predecessors, and tens of thousands of people protested the proposed changes in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Despite the opposition, Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting that voters voted in the November elections to support his campaign promise to overhaul the justice system.

“We will complete legislating the reforms in a way that will correct what needs to be fixed, fully protect individual rights and restore public confidence in the justice system that so desperately needs this reform,” Netanyahu said.

There have been calls in the past to reform Israel’s judicial system, which received more clout in the 1990s and has since been seen by critics as being too interventionist in the legislative process. But the sweeping changes sought by Netanyahu’s justice minister have sounded alarm bells among opponents who see it as the death knell for Israel’s system of checks and balances and, therefore, its democratic fundamentals.

Netanyahu and his allies see the changes as a way to ease the governance process and recalibrate what they say is the imbalance between the country’s executive and judiciary.

The proposed changes, tabled weeks after the government was sworn in, revealed how deeply polarized Israeli society is, torn between preserving the country’s liberal and democratic ideals or moving away from them. They also showed how quickly the country’s government, the most right-wing ever, is determined to advance its policies, many of which have drawn criticism, including from unexpected quarters..

Netanyahu leads a government of ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties that have at times had their agendas thwarted by Supreme Court rulings or adverse advice from government legal advisers. This prompted them to ensure that legal changes were a top priority during negotiations to form the government. Netanyahu, eager to return to power under the shadow of his corruption trial, has been generous to his partners in the talks.

Among those concessions was a promise to put Avi Maoz, the leader of a small, radical and religious ultranationalist party that has repeatedly launched anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, in charge of some educational programs. The Cabinet approved the pledge on Sunday, despite an outcry from mayors and Israeli parents during the first discussion.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who normally exercises a largely symbolic role, stepped in to bridge the gap on judicial changes. In a statement, Herzog said he was working to avoid “a historic constitutional crisis” in a series of meetings with political figures. Hundreds of people protested outside his residence in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Netanyahu said the overhaul would be done carefully and under parliamentary scrutiny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *