Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Frantically Seeks Judicial Accord as Parliament Vote Looms

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu Frantically Seeks Judicial Accord as Parliament Vote Looms
Protesters take part in a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist coalition government’s judicial overhaul by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
In a race against time, Israel’s President is fervently pursuing a compromise on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul as a crucial vote in the Knesset approaches. The nation is witnessing protesters chaining themselves outside the parliament building, expressing their opposition to the proposed judicial changes that have triggered one of Israel’s most severe crises in decades. With even banks and businesses joining the protest, pressure mounts on Netanyahu, who recently underwent a pacemaker fitting after being hospitalized. As the crisis spreads to the military, concerns arise about Israel’s war-readiness, making the situation even more precarious.

Amidst growing tension, the parliament is set to vote on a bill that aims to limit the Supreme Court’s power to overturn governmental and ministerial decisions. This bill is the first step in a larger package that some critics fear may undermine judicial independence in Israel. Netanyahu, currently facing corruption charges he vehemently denies, contends that these changes are necessary to restore a balance among government branches.

President Isaac Herzog is taking a proactive approach to resolve the conflict. In a bid to close the rift between the religious-nationalist coalition and opposition parties, he met with Netanyahu during the latter’s hospital stay. Compromise talks are ongoing, even as lawmakers are debating the bill, hoping to find common ground on this contentious issue.

Netanyahu finds himself in a challenging position, caught between international pressures from Washington to seek consensus on judicial reforms and demands from his hard-line coalition partners to pursue further changes to the judiciary. The coalition is determined to challenge what they perceive as a politically interventionist Supreme Court, while critics argue that the rushed amendment could potentially lead to abuses of power, eliminating essential checks on the executive’s authority.

The government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary, announced soon after it assumed power in January, have sparked unprecedented street protests and raised concerns among international allies about the state of Israel’s democratic institutions. Additionally, the economy has felt the impact, with the Shekel weakening by approximately 8% since the announcement.

In a display of solidarity with the demonstrators, Israel’s two largest banks, Leumi and Hapoalim, have allowed their employees to participate in the protest without sacrificing their pay. Furthermore, a forum comprising 150 of Israel’s largest companies has gone on strike, while major shopping centers like Azrieli and Big have chosen to keep their stores closed in support of the ongoing protests.

Also Read: Tragedy Strikes Odesa: Russian Air Attack Claims Lives and Damages Iconic Cathedral

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *