Protests against justice reform continue

For the ninth consecutive week, thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend to protest against the justice reform bill championed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and its far-right allies , but considered dangerous for democracy by opponents.

Benjamin Netanyahu, at the head of a right-wing and far-right coalition government which took office in December 2022, is seeking, through reforms, to reduce the powers of the Supreme Court by notably introducing a clause “ derogatory » offering the possibility to the Parliament to annul by simple majority a decision of this jurisdiction. Moreover, the latter would see its independence called into question since the text must allow the political power to directly appoint the judges sitting there.

Reforms that have triggered a wave of protests in the country for a few weeks. slogans of ” Democracy ! ” And ” Shame“, were chanted in the center of Tel Aviv by the demonstrators who waved the Israeli flag, but also in other cities of the country.

Clashes also took place in Tel Aviv on Wednesday between protesters and police, who used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. A spokesman for Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv told AFP that 11 protesters had been treated there.

Opponents of Netanyahu’s justice reform bill say it aims to undermine judicial authority in favor of political authority, warning that the bill poses a threat to the democratic system.

But Benjamin Netanyahu and the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, do not hear it with the same ear. They consider that the reform of the judicial system is an essential step in rebalancing the branches of power. The Israeli Prime Minister and his allies thus consider that the judges of the Supreme Court are politicized and enjoy more power than those of elected officials.

Thus, the parliament approved on Tuesday, in first reading, two fundamental provisions of the reform, the first modifying the process of appointment of judges, and the second making the Supreme Court disqualified from annulling any amendment to the fundamental laws considered as a Constitution in Israel .

Another controversial provision provides for the introduction of the exception clause, which allows Parliament to overturn certain decisions of the Supreme Court by a simple majority of 61 votes out of 120 members of Parliament, and whose vote is planned during a first reading at a later date.

So far, it appears the protests, which generally condemn government policy, will fail to distract Netanyahu and his majority from their goal.

For its part, the opposition, led by centrist leader Yair Lapid, has repeatedly accused Netanyahu of pursuing his personal interests through the amendment.

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