Israel: Judicial Bill Passes First Vote in Knesset

Image copyright: The Knesset Channel [via Ynet News]

The Facts

  • Overnight on Monday, Israel's Knesset passed the first reading of a bill that would allow it to override Supreme Court decisions and enact legislation that had been struck down. The bill is reportedly a top priority of PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

  • The 120-member body split between coalition and opposition lines, with 61 voting in favor of the measure while 52 opposed it. Now, it will head to the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee for revisions ahead of two final votes.

The Spin

Left narrative

This move by Netanyahu and his most extreme allies shows, despite a legitimate right-shift in the electorate, the prime minister actually has less control over his coalition than once thought. Facing scrutiny over bribery and fraud charges, the only way Netanyahu can maintain his power is by ripping apart Israel's long-standing democratic institutions and criminalizing judicial dissent. We are watching an authoritarian coup in real time.

Right narrative

Despite the left arguing that these judicial reform plans threaten democracy, the reality is actually quite the opposite. The self-appointed Israeli Supreme Court has autocratic, unchecked powers that allow it to nullify and rewrite democratically-enacted laws and policies on the basis of subjective justifications. Consequently, the move is crucial to curb the court's undemocratic excesses and protect the rule of law.

Pro-Palestine narrative

Though there's much talk from the Israeli left that the country's democracy is under threat, for Palestinians it has never been a democracy. Apartheid and democracy are mutually exclusive, and the only reason Israelis are protesting in the first place is because they want to maintain the system that has oppressed Palestinians for 75 years.

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