• July 19, 2024

When Netanyahu rejects judicial compromise, Israelis protest more 2023

Israeli protestors continued their rallies against a controversial government plan to restructure the court on Thursday, pushing back against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he rejected a compromise proposal intended to resolve the issue.

Despite the efforts of the country’s symbolic president, Isaac Herzog, to find a way out of the impasse, the parties looked to be digging in more. Netanyahu and his supporters were prepared to move through with their initial plan despite weeks of large protests and broad resistance from Israeli society and beyond, as well as Herzog’s warnings that Israel was heading into a “abyss.”

The beginning of the third day of protests since the beginning of the crisis was marked by the planned closure of roadways. In Jerusalem, protesters erected a red line on the streets leading to the country’s Supreme Court, while a tiny flotilla of boats was obstructing the shipping channel off the shore of Haifa.

Netanyahu was flown to the country’s primary international airport for a foreign state visit last week after demonstrators blocked the road leading there with posters reading “Don’t return!” Every Saturday evening, tens of thousands have been attending protests around the nation.

The reform, pushed by a prime minister on trial for corruption and the most right-wing administration in Israel’s history, has driven the country into one of its biggest political crises. Reservists have promised not to serve under what they perceive to be an imminent regime change.

According to the government, the proposal will rectify an imbalance between Israel’s judicial and executive branches, which has given the courts too much influence over Israel’s governance. Opponents assert that the reform undermines the country’s system of checks and balances, grants the prime minister and the administration excessive authority, and eliminates judicial scrutiny. They also say Netanyahu, who is on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, could find an escape route from his legal woes through the overhaul.

His idea looked to give incentives to both sides, despite the fact that Herzog had spent weeks meeting with actors on both sides of the split to attempt to find a compromise.

Netanyahu promptly rejected the offer as he boarded a flight to Germany, stating that it did not address the question of branch balance. Protests were also anticipated during Netanyahu’s formal visit to Berlin.

Netanyahu, long a staunch defender of the independence of the courts, returned to power late last year after more than a year as opposition leader, in the midst of a political crisis over his eligibility to rule while on trial that pushed Israelis to the polls five times in less than four years.

He cobbled together a coalition with ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox partners who have long tried to restrict judicial authority. Groups who favor West Bank settlements view the court as an impediment to their expansionist objectives, whereas religious factions are motivated to restrict the court’s capacity to decide on subjects that they think would disturb their way of life.

But, detractors assert that there are also personal issues involved. In addition to Netanyahu’s accusations, which he claims are unrelated to the overhaul, the Supreme Court banned a key Netanyahu supporter from sitting as a Cabinet member due to prior convictions for tax offenses. Under the reorganization, they each have legislation that might shield their positions from court involvement.

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