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Since January 4, Israel has been experiencing one of its worst political and judicial crises.
As tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated again on Saturday in Tel Aviv against the controversial judicial reform plan, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called for a freeze on this government project, saying the raging dispute over it poses a threat to the integrity of the country’s security.
He also put in guard, in the first clear public objection by a senior member of the government, against “a worsening internal division seeping into the military and defense institutions, in a clear, direct and real danger to the security of Israel”.
The prime minister of the far-right coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges he denies, is under pressure from others in his coalition government who want him to move forward with a bill this week that would give them greater influence in choose judges.
What’s controversial in this law?
Netanyahu seeks to introduce sweeping changes in the judicial system, especially as many right-wingers in Israel views the Supreme Court as left-leaning, elitist and too introverted in political affairs, as well as often putting minority rights ahead of national interests.
So the government is pushing for changes that would limit this court’s powers to pass judgments against the legislative and executive branches, while giving MPs more power in appointing judges, which currently requires the approval of politicians and judges who are members of the relevant committee.
These various current proposals would change that, giving the government much more leverage.
years in prison?!
However, some opponents believe Netanyahu’s motives are personal, especially as he faces 3 criminal charges of corruption.
They also believe that his goal is to abort the Supreme Court, in so you don’t face the possibility of spending many years in prison!
Furthermore, another part of them insinuates that Netanyahu’s nationalist allies want to weaken the Supreme Court to establish more settlements on the land where Palestinians seek to establish their state.
They also point out that ultra-Orthodox coalition parties are trying to pass a law exempting their sect from military service, and fear the court will ruin that if its powers aren’t curtailed.
Furthermore, some critics of the bill believe that the changes it will introduce to the judiciary will weaken if passed by the courts and hand over the absolute power of the government, which puts in threaten civil liberties with catastrophic effects on the economy and relations with Western allies, according to Reuters.
To view the judiciary as non-independent would deprive Israel of one of its main lines of defense in international legal cases.
But despite all these objections and demonstrations, the ruling coalition, led by Netanyahu, insists on final ratification of the changes by April 2, when the Knesset will begin its spring recess.
While the discussion of some amendments has been postponed, after others were approved in the Knesset plenum in the first of the three readings necessary for ratification, until Parliament reconvenes on April 30.
But fears of serious real division in the country are growing, especially after calls for rebellion from within the Likud party, and even from within the ranks of the army!
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