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Judicial reform in Israel: Riots after Netanyahu’s speech

Judicial reform in Israel: Riots after Netanyahu’s speech

Status: 07/21/2023 04:49 AM

A key element of Israel’s controversial judicial reform is scheduled to be outlined early next week. Protest against it is escalating again – turning violent in Tel Aviv after Netanyahu’s speech.

During the protests against the controversial judicial reform undertaken by the Israeli government, clashes broke out between demonstrators and police in Tel Aviv.

The demonstrators blocked the main highway for several hours in the evening and set it on fire. There were also street fights with officials. Hundreds of other demonstrators continued to march nearly 70 kilometers from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu defends reform in his address to the nation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier defended the controversial judicial reform in an address to the nation. Netanyahu said it would “strengthen democracy”. “All these statements about the destruction of democracy are simply absurd,” said the prime minister.

In his speech this evening, Netanyahu also called the plans of the military reservists to refuse to serve because of the reform as an attack on democracy.

It is the army that should submit to the government, not the other way around. “If they succeed in carrying out their threats, this will lead to an impediment to democracy,” Netanyahu said. and: “Refusal to serve threatens the security of every citizen of Israel.”

Part of the reform will be decided on Monday

In his speech, Netanyahu said he was “open to negotiations” over a key component of the controversial judicial reform. Efforts are still underway to “reach an agreement with the opposition.” He added that he “really hopes that the efforts will succeed.” The Israeli Prime Minister stressed that even in the absence of an agreement, “the door will remain open for negotiations.”

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In his speech, Netanyahu expressed his understanding of the criticism of the restructuring of the judiciary, but at the same time clearly indicated that he wanted to move forward with his plans. The Knesset Judiciary Committee on Wednesday night approved the current draft of the so-called adequacy clause. So the debate on the law should start on Sunday in parliament. The final vote in the second and third readings is scheduled for Monday.

It is about a law that will mean that Israel’s highest court will no longer be able to examine the “appropriateness” of decisions made by the people’s representatives. Critics see this reform and other projects as attempts to undermine the democratic separation of powers and allow the government to make arbitrary decisions. This also opens the door to corruption. On the other hand, the government claims that the elected representatives of the people must be strengthened against an intrusive judicial system.