Protest against judicial reform in Israel: “The state is not your game”

Protest against judicial reform in Israel: “The state is not your game”

As of: 01/14/2023 9:31 PM

Tens of thousands of people in Israel protested the planned judicial reform. The right-wing government surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to reform the legal system and weaken the Supreme Court. Critics see the separation of powers in danger.

Tens of thousands demonstrated in Israel this evening against the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The protests are directed primarily against plans by Justice Minister Garev Levin to weaken the justice system.

Media: 80,000 people in Tel Aviv

It was the largest demonstration so far against the new government, which was sworn in at the end of December. Demonstrations took place in Haifa and Jerusalem – but above all in Tel Aviv. About 80,000 people participated there, according to Israeli media reports, referring to the police.

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrate in downtown Tel Aviv.

Bild: Environmental Protection Agency / Abeer Sultan

‘The state is not your game’

The protests began in Tel Aviv in the city center in the square in front of the Habima National Theatre. The demonstrators then marched through the streets, waving blue and white Israeli flags. They repeatedly chanted “democracy”. One poster reads, “The country is not your game.”

At the beginning of the week, Israel’s far-right police minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, announced the crackdown on protesters.

Does Netanyahu want to evade the trial?

The reason for the protests is far-reaching reforms to the justice system that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is currently planning. The prime minister, who is currently facing corruption charges, has put judicial reform at the center of his agenda.

Netanyahu himself could benefit from a change in the rules of the judiciary. Because they could help the prime minister avoid a corruption conviction – or even ensure that proceedings against him are dropped altogether.

Laws contrary to the Basic Law

A majority in Parliament should be able to pass a law with reform – even if according to the Supreme Court it violates the Basic Law. This would give Parliament the power to overturn court decisions by a simple majority.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Levin accuses the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions. Levin wants to change the composition of the body that appoints judges. Parliament is given the power to appoint judges.

A “fatal blow” to the independence of judges

Critics of the project argue that Israeli democracy is in danger as a result of reform. Prominent opposition politicians, former prosecutors and the chief justice of the Supreme Court have spoken out against the plan.

In an unusually strongly worded speech, the Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court, Esther Chagot, warned of a “fatal blow” to the judges’ independence Thursday. She said that after the planned reforms, the country’s democratic identity would be completely distorted. Levin then accused Chayut of siding with the opposition.

The government of re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most right-wing governmentthat Israel had. Far-right politicians are also represented for the first time.


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