Plans for judicial reform in Israel spark protracted demonstrations outside of parliament

Israeli lawmakers were protested outside (13/02/23)

Israeli citizens are protesting in large numbers outside of their parliament against divisive judicial reform proposals.

Since the plans were made public last month, Israel has experienced some of its largest protests in years.

If approved, they would reduce the Supreme Court's authority and give the executive branch more control over judicial selections.

Critics claim it will weaken democracy, but the government contends that the reforms will make it stronger.

Atypically for a US leader to voice an opinion on Israeli constitutional matters, US President Joe Biden appeared to be critical of the proposals in their current form.

In remarks published in the New York Times on Sunday, he said, "The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary.

Building support for fundamental changes is crucial, he continued.

Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel, issued a warning on Sunday that the nation was in danger of social and constitutional collapse. Since the office is regarded as a politically neutral figurehead, Israeli presidents rarely get involved in political issues.

Tens of thousands of people have participated in weekly large-scale demonstrations against the reforms in Tel Aviv. The judiciary, according to opponents, will be politicized by the plans, which could result in a totalitarian state.

The government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claims that the current structure is undemocratic because it allows the Supreme Court to overturn legislation passed by a legislature chosen by the general public.

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Lavin announced the plans and accused opponents, including the attorney general and chief justice of the Supreme Court, of trying to "carry out a coup" against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The accusation came after a petition was submitted to the court asking for the prime minister to be declared unfit for office.

The Supreme Court's ability to overturn laws would be severely limited by one of the proposed reforms. Additionally, a simple majority in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) could overrule decisions made by the Supreme Court.

According to Mr. Netanyahu, the plans will stop judicial overreach and restore the proper balance between the three branches of government.

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