Israelis Protest Netanyahu's Legal Reforms

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Israel to oppose PM Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed judicial reforms.

Israelis Protest Netanyahu's Legal Reforms
Image credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Israel to oppose PM Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed judicial reforms.
  • Israeli media reported that at least 80K people took part in the anti-government protest at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, with protests occurring in Jerusalem and Haifa as well.
  • The massive protests come after Netanyahu's government recently proposed a bill to change how Israel's judiciary operates. However, Netanyahu has stated that the policy is still flexible, saying it would be implemented "with careful consideration while hearing all the positions."
  • Protesting Israelis insist overhauling the country's legal system would allow the Knesset — or Israel's parliament — to overturn the Supreme Court's decisions and destroy the checks and balances of Israeli democracy.
  • However, justice minister Yariv Levin claimed that the reforms would restore the balance between the three branches of government, arguing "judicial activism had ruined the public trust in the legal system and made it impossible for governments to rule effectively."
  • The reforms include limiting the Supreme Court's power to rule against government policies, giving parliament control over the appointment of judges, and reducing the independence of legal advisers.

Sources: CBS, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Reuters, Times of Israel, and SCMP.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by The Guardian. Netanyahu's far-right government's only agenda is to destroy Israel's democratic institutions, cripple judicial independence, foster corruption, and curtail freedom of speech and dissent. In a nutshell, the proposed reforms are a ploy to allow ultra-Orthodox lawmakers to abuse their authority and help Netanyahu — on trial for fraud, breach of trust, and bribery charges since 2019 — evade conviction.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Times of Israel. Netanyahu's government is carrying out the people's will to strengthen democracy by restoring the balance between the judiciary, executive, and legislature. Contrary to the democracy doomsdayers' assertions, the proposed legal reforms would make Israel's judicial apparatus the most powerful in the world and ensure the country's radically democratic political culture remains healthy and vibrant.