Middle East Netanyahu modifies part of his judicial reform but does not appease the crisis

Pressured by the massive protests against the judicial change plan and the warnings about its disastrous effects on the economy, diplomacy and the Israeli Army and, on the other hand, by his government partners and the bases on the right, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu tries to find a formula that avoids an even bigger crisis than the one his country is already suffering without endangering his coalition, which in a few days will celebrate its third month of life

Middle East Netanyahu modifies part of his judicial reform but does not appease the crisis

Pressured by the massive protests against the judicial change plan and the warnings about its disastrous effects on the economy, diplomacy and the Israeli Army and, on the other hand, by his government partners and the bases on the right, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu tries to find a formula that avoids an even bigger crisis than the one his country is already suffering without endangering his coalition, which in a few days will celebrate its third month of life. Hence Netanyahu's decision to delay the approval process of a large part of the laws in the plan, such as the one that removes the possibility of annulling basic laws from the Supreme Court (TS) or the one that grants Parliament the power to approve, with a majority of 61 of the 120 deputies, laws disabled by the TS.

What is not postponed and is expected to be approved before the parliamentary recess at the beginning of April is the initiative-flag of the project announced in January by the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin: the majority of the government coalition in the selection of judges especially the TS. The proposal has been softened and must be approved this Tuesday in the Knesset Law Commission so that it can be submitted to the final vote next week. The new version establishes that the Government will be able to choose the first two judges of the TS in the legislature thanks to its majority in the committee, while the following ones must be agreed between the Government, the opposition and the judges. The new commission will be made up of 11 members and not the current nine: three Supreme Court judges, three ministers, three members of the coalition and two representatives of the opposition. Likewise, the criterion of "seniority" in the appointment of the president of the highest judicial instance would be annulled, giving the coalition a fundamental role in his election.

"This is a law that restores balance in the committee for the election of judges and annuls the undemocratic situation in which judges appoint judges," Justifies Levin, who declared that the Supreme Court now has no reason to intervene in the coming months to annul the moderate law "that took into account the comments presented". But the Minister of Justice went further and warned that in such a case he will not accept the sentence of the highest judicial instance, advancing a scenario of a frontal and constitutional clash between the Government and the judiciary.

Opposition parties have rejected the new proposal, noting that it continues to give the government control over the appointment of judges, thus breaking judicial independence and separation of powers. "This is a new lie to the Israelis as they continue to propose hostile and dangerous control of unethical politicians over the judicial system," denounced opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid. And he adds: "His plan of his will not bring more diversity in the judicial system but will make it a branch of the Likud committee." "Softening? It is a more powerful version of what happened in Poland and Hungary," added Labor leader Merav Michaeli. But not everyone in Netanyahu's party supports the new proposal, considering it deviates from the original one announced by the minister. of Justice, Yariv Levin in early January. In the Likud, there is a division between the "hawks" in the judicial field who have long wanted to end what they call the "dictatorship of the Supreme Court" and who ask "not to give in to the pressures of the demonstrations and the left" and the most moderates who support consensual reforms and advise their leader to take a break in the face of the serious crisis that the country is going through where the protests are increasingly massive and tense. As on many occasions in his long political career, Netanyahu finds himself faced with a dilemma. If he heeds increasingly strong and widespread economic announcements, fears of a crisis of confidence in the military and recrimination from US President Joe Biden, he should freeze and agree on the reform. If he listens to his ultra-conservative government partners, including his own party, he should go ahead with the change plan. In the first case, he would avoid an unprecedented crisis at all levels. In the second case, he would guarantee the continuity of his coalition.

According to various sources, another reason for Netanyahu's decision to put the brakes on the reform is the warning from Defense Minister Yoav Galant, who warned him to resign if the reform is not agreed upon. The reason is the increasing number of reservists who warn against doing voluntary service if what they consider to be "laws that will change democracy for a dictatorship" are applied. In fact, several hundred no longer show up since Sunday. The Army also fears that the protest will also come from regular service soldiers. Everything indicates that Galant's warning was leaked by Netanyahu to promote softening and postponement of judicial reform in his party and coalition. The leaders of the demonstrations, which have led hundreds of thousands of people in dozens of Israeli cities for more than two months, they have rejected the new government proposal, assuring that it continues to attack democracy and they have confirmed new protests this Thursday and next Saturday.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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