Israel: Knesset Passes First Reading of Judicial Reform

    Israel: Knesset Passes First Reading of Judicial Reform
    Last updated Feb 21, 2023
    Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via CNN]


    • Early on Tuesday, Israel's Knesset — its state legislature — passed the first of three readings to turn a divisive plan by PM Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition to overhaul the country's judiciary into law.
    • The set of bills was approved by a vote of 63 to 47 in the 120-seat Knesset as the ruling coalition, which has a majority of 64 members, pushed for the legislation despite protests against the changes over the past seven weeks.
    • Some 60K people gathered on Monday outside the Knesset to demonstrate against the judicial reform as debate was set to begin in the evening, with a group of them attempting to break into the building. Hours earlier, protesters blocked major highways and interchanges across the country.
    • The proposed legislation intends to change the composition of the panel that nominates judges, giving the government a de facto majority, and prevent courts from ruling against the Basic Laws, Israel's quasi-constitution.
    • As these bills passed their first reading, they will now return to the committee for further discussion before being voted on two more times to become law. This process may take several weeks or even months.
    • While Israel's Justice Minister Yariv Levin claimed opponents are seeking to carry out a coup against PM Netanyahu, the country's Pres. Isaac Herzog warned that Israel is on the brink of a constitutional and social collapse.


    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, it's actually quite the contrary. 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. Therefore, this 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 completely 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.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Israel will have a national election for Knesset in 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Political split



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