Israelis to protest Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul for 30th consecutive week

Protests at Karkur intersection on Saturday.Credit: Amir Levy

Eliad Shraga, the head of the nonprofit Movement for Quality Government in Israel, spoke at a demonstration in northern Israel saying “We have filed many petitions to the High Court of Justice and there are many more on the way.”

March in Haifa on Saturday.Credit: Fadi Amun

An IDF colonel in the reserves has petitioned the High Court of Justice against repealing the reasonableness standard, on the grounds that it puts enlisted service members and officers at risk of prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The petitioner also argued that the process of legislating the change was procedurally flawed, as IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi was prevented from addressing the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a meeting with Halevi to discuss the consequences of the law.

Soldiers and reservists, the petition says, “are liable to be more vulnerable to criminal proceedings at the international level… especially at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.” This is a result of “violating the independence of the law enforcement system in Israel, the [service members’] which is their last line of defense, owing to the principle of complementarity established in the Treaty of Rome.”

The law to abolish the reasonableness standard removed the High Court of Justice’s authority to strike down government decisions it deems unreasonable, and passed the second and third Knesset votes it needed in order to be legislated on Monday.

The petitioner further argues that the law was submitted to the Knesset for its second and third votes without the members of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee receiving “essential, reliable, current and urgent information about the chief of staff’s assessment of the law’s consequences on national security and the IDF’s preparedness.”

Protests at Gome intersection in northern Israel on Saturday.Credit: Amir Shoshani
Protesters on the Ayalon highway this week.Credit: Itai Ron

Protests against the Netanyahu-led government’s judicial overhaul will continue Saturday evening for the 30th consecutive week, following Monday’s vote in the Knesset which saw the passage of a law to deny the High Court’s ability to nullify laws it deems unreasonable.

After the approval of the bill, several demonstrations took place across Israel, including a tent encampment in Jerusalem, the blocking off of the Knesset’s entrance, and a protest in Tel Aviv’s Kaplan intersection that saw at least 18 people injured by police violence.

The main demonstration on Saturday night will take place at the Kaplan intersection in central Tel Aviv, where former Governor of the Bank of Israel, Jacob Frenkel, and several representatives of various protest organizations will address the crowd.

Friday saw recurring demonstrations in front of the homes of ministers and lawmakers, such as Economy Minister Nir Barkat, Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman, and MK David Bitan of Likud. Additionally, a demonstration was held for the first time in front of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s home in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim.

Another demonstration was held Friday in front of President Isaac Herzog’s house in Tel Aviv. Demonstrators also came to protest in front of a restaurant where Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was dining.

Asaf ZalalCredit: Education Ministry Spokesperson

The Director-General of Israel’s Education Ministry resigned on Friday in protest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing judicial overhaul legislation.

Asaf Zalel said in a statement that “The rift we have reached [in society] does not allow me to continue to fulfill my responsibilities as required,” and would like to conclude his tenure.

A 1990 rally of support for Arye Dery. The aim of his Shas party was to forge a Mizrahi identity that would be both class-based and militant, and simultaneously traditionalist and antiliberal.Credit: Rafi Kotz

We’re told that the judicial overhaul had its genesis in places far, far away. Thus, to understand what the government is planning for us, we need to analyze the Hungarians, look at what the Poles are doing and keep abreast of the papers being issued by the Kohelet Policy Forum, which is funded from abroad. That’s all true, of course, if the coup is considered from a legal, constitutional or regime point of view.

But listening to the battle cries of the “reform” camp itself, one understands that the judicial element is only a small part of the phenomenon.

What’s the point of changing the balance of governmental powers when in any case, if you’re a second-class citizen, every officeholder works against you? Why worry about the workings of the judiciary when everyone working in it is a privileged Ashkenazi anyway? The overhaul’s proponents are not touting it as a judicial event; they see it as a social, ethnic and class revolution.

Yuli EdelsteinCredit: Gilad Kavalerchik

Several Likud lawmakers said on Friday that they have reservations about continuing with the judicial overhaul legislation, with one adding that he is unwilling to proceed with additional legislation without broad consensus.

In an interview with Israel’s “Meet the Press” which was taped Friday and will air on Saturday, MK Yuli Edelstein — the former Speaker of the Knesset who currently serves as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee — said he is unwilling to promise he will support further judicial overhaul legislation.

The Israeli Defense Forces’ intelligence body has warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the potential national security implications of the judicial overhaul legislation, as reported on Friday by “Yedioth Ahronoth.”

According to the report, “the enemy perceives the summer of 2023 as a historic weak point for Israel.”

A group of Democratic congressmen are advancing an official congressional resolution in support of Israel’s pro-democracy protest movement. If accepted – though not binding in any way for the U.S. government – the resolution would reflect the public opinion among Democratic Party voters, and may encourage President Biden to continue his opposition to the judicial overhaul legislation led by the Benjamin Netanyahu government.

This declaration of support was initiated by Jewish congresswomen Jan Schakowsky, who has been joined by a number of prominent party lawmakers, including Jerry Nadler, former chairman of the Constitution Committee in the House of Representatives, and , who led the investigation into the January 6th insurrection in Washington.


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