On Saturday, a large number of protesters in Israel gathered to express their opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed changes to the judicial system, which would grant politicians the authority to select judges and limit the Supreme Court’s ability to invalidate legislation.
Despite the controversial program not yet receiving the swift approval Netanyahu had hoped for, his government intends to push through the proposed changes. The demonstrators, carrying banners with messages such as ‘Israel is burning’ and labeling Netanyahu the ‘enemy of democracy,’ filled the streets of Tel Aviv and blocked the highway, causing disruptions to traffic.
In response to stalled compromise talks with opposition party lawmakers, Netanyahu announced that his government would proceed with the contentious judicial overhaul this week. The discussions hit a roadblock when the opposition parties demanded the establishment of a key panel responsible for selecting judges.
Addressing his cabinet, Netanyahu expressed frustration with the opposition, stating that despite extending the negotiations for three months, no basic agreements were reached. He asserted that most of Israeli society recognizes the need for changes in the judicial system and emphasized that active steps would be taken in accordance with the government’s mandate.
This development follows a previous suspension of the proposed judicial overhaul in March, after months of protests and international criticism, when Netanyahu agreed to engage in talks with the opposition. However, negotiations came to a halt last week when opposition leaders insisted on the completion of the Judicial Appointments Committee, which includes two politicians, three judges, and two lawyers.
During a vote at the Israeli parliament, a surprising turn of events occurred as several coalition members from Netanyahu’s Likud party voted in favor of the opposition’s candidate, Karine Elharrar, securing her appointment to the nine-member Judicial Appointments Committee with a 58-56 vote. The committee typically includes lawmakers from both the ruling coalition and the opposition, but some aspects of the proposed overhaul sought to grant full control to the ruling coalition. This vote has dealt a significant blow to the Netanyahu government, revealing divisions within the ruling coalition and raising questions about his influence over his political allies.