Will Israel’s government push through judicial reform?
Israel’s parliament on Monday approved key parts of the controversial judicial reform proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing ultra-orthodox government. Under the new legislation the Supreme Court would no longer be able to prevent laws from being passed on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. After mass protests, Netanyahu had halted the reform in March in favour of further discussions. Now new massive demonstrations have erupted.
Netanyahu under pressure on two fronts
The prime minister is in a dilemma, Polityka analyses:
“His ultra-nationalist and religious coalition partners see the reform as the only chance to secure their interests for the future. Control over the Supreme Court and the judiciary means they will be able to fulfil their electoral promises to their voters: the settlers in the West Bank and the ultra-Orthodox. ... This is all about concrete interests and billions of shekels. Netanyahu cannot ignore the demands of his coalition partners. But nor can he ignore the pressure from the US. Joe Biden recently said that Netanyahu’s coalition partners were the ‘most extreme’ Israel had ever seen. And Netanyahu still hasn’t received an invitation to the White House even though he has been head of government for almost seven months now.”
Reason to bring down the government
If the government pushes through this reform, civil society in Israel has every reason to go to extremes, says Die Presse:
“Netanyahu is presenting himself as indifferent to both the pressure from Washington and the polarisation and social erosion in Israel. This reform will actually strengthen democracy, he stressed — a statement which is hard to beat in its cynicism. ... If the desperate appeals of the president, Yitzhak Herzog, and the opposition for a new round of negotiations fail and all hopes for a compromise collapse, the opponents of reform would do well to bring down Netanyahu’s shameless government through protests and strikes. This would be an act of patriotism.”