Will Israel Adopt Judicial Reforms?

by | May 31, 2023 | May / June 2023

On March 27, 2023, with Israel on the brink of a self-inflicted implosion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi, announced that he would delay his government’s controversial pursuit of judicial reform until the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, returns from a recess at the end of April.Netanyahu’s only other choice was to risk, in his words, “civil war.”

The proposed legal reforms that inspired a storm of protests included changing the way supreme court judges are selected, enabling Knesset members to reverse the court when it strikes down laws, abolishing the legal principle of “reasonableness” (which allows the court to overrule Knesset decisions) and empowering ministers to hire and fire their own legal advisers. The proposals were divisive from the beginning, seen as unpopular concessions Netanyahu was forced to grant to the ultra-right-leaning members of his new coalition. The effort blossomed into an unmanageable crisis after Bibi fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, after Gallant announced that the pursuit of reforms posed a threat to Israel’s security.
“Israel cannot exist without the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), and the IDF cannot exist with refusals to serve,” Netanyahu said in an address to the nation after protests had spread to the Israeli military. “There must not be civil war.”

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