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The Israeli parliament approved other parts of the judicial reform

The Israeli parliament approved other parts of the judicial reform

The right-wing government majority in the Israeli parliament approved other parts of the controversial judicial reform on first reading. A majority of Knesset members initially approved a provision that would prevent the Israeli Supreme Court from obstructing the government’s appointment of ministers. Another draft later removed the first hurdle that would have made it more difficult for the Court to overturn legislation passed by Parliament.

The vote was again accompanied by loud protests inside the Knesset. MPs shouted “the gang of crooks” at the government majority before kicking some out of the room. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets for weeks against the judicial reform announced by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government at the beginning of January. Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, regained power at the end of December with the help of a right-wing religious coalition.

Judicial reform is a major project of the far-right ruling coalition in Israel’s history, which includes both the ultra-Orthodox and the far-right parties. The prime minister describes reform as necessary to restore balance in the separation of powers.

According to Netanyahu’s logic, the judiciary in Israel currently wields great power. On the one hand, critics see it as an attack on the rule of law. UN Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has expressed concern about human rights and the rule of law in Israel, as has President Isaac Herzog.

The part of the reform approved Wednesday in first reading, which would eliminate the High Court’s ability to block cabinet appointments, is known in Israel as “Derei 2” law — after the ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, who was originally Netanyahu’s appointee. He wants to appoint the Ministers of Health and Home Affairs.

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However, in January, the Supreme Court overturned Deri’s appointment to a cabinet post after he was found guilty of tax evasion. Netanyahu initially acquiesced in the ruling, but left Al-Dari’s position vacant. The new order now needed may pave the way for Deri to become a minister.

The amendment to overturn laws by the Supreme Court, which also began on first reading, would require a unanimous decision by all 15 future Supreme Court justices. In addition, a law can only be banned if it expressly violates one of the so-called basic laws, which have quasi-constitutional status.

There is no constitution for Israel. However, the Supreme Court has so far been able to overturn laws passed by Parliament if it considers them discriminatory. The reform would make this more difficult – especially since it would enable MPs to overturn such a court decision by simple majority.

Before the judicial reform takes effect, its components must still be passed by the Knesset in the second and third readings.