Protest against judicial reform in Israel: “The state is not your toy”

As of: 01/14/2023 9:31 p.m

In Israel, tens of thousands have protested against the planned judicial reform. The right-wing government around Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to overhaul the legal system and weaken the Supreme Court. Critics see the separation of powers in danger.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Israel in the evening against Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. The protests are primarily directed against Justice Minister Jariv Levin’s plans to weaken the judicial system.

Media: 80,000 people in Tel Aviv

It was the largest demonstration to date against the new government, which was sworn in at the end of December. Demonstrations took place in the cities of Haifa and Jerusalem – but above all in Tel Aviv. About 80,000 people took part there, according to Israeli media reports referring to the police.

Tens of thousands of people protest in Tel Aviv city center.


“The state is not your toy”

The protests in Telv Aviv started in the city center on the square in front of the Habima National Theater. The demonstrators then marched through the streets waving blue and white Israeli flags. “Democracy,” they chanted again and again. “The state is not your toy,” read one poster.

At the beginning of the week, Israel’s right-wing extremist police minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced crackdowns on demonstrators.

Does Netanyahu want to avoid trial?

The reason for the protests are far-reaching reforms in the judicial system that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is currently planning. The prime minister, who is currently facing charges of corruption, has put judicial reform at the heart of his agenda.

Netanyahu himself could benefit from a change in the judiciary rules. Because they could help the prime minister to avoid a conviction for corruption – or even ensure that the proceedings against him are dropped altogether.

Laws that violate the Basic Law

A majority in parliament should be able to pass a law with the reform – even if it violates the Basic Law according to the Supreme Court. This would give Parliament the power to overrule court decisions by a simple majority.

Attorney General Levin, meanwhile, accuses the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions. Levin wants to change the composition of the panel that appoints judges. Parliament is to be given control over the appointment of judges.

“Death blow” to independence of judges

Critics of the project see Israeli democracy in danger as a result of the reform. Leading opposition politicians, former attorneys general and the President of the Supreme Court have spoken out against the plan.

In an unusually sharply worded speech, the head of Israel’s highest court, Esther Chajut, warned of a “deadly blow” to the independence of judges on Thursday. After the planned reforms, the country’s democratic identity would be completely distorted, she said. Levin then accused Chayut of being on the side of the opposition.

The government of re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most right-wing government Israel has ever had. Right-wing extremist politicians are also represented for the first time.

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