Israel: Netanyahu to Pause Judicial Reform Amid Nationwide Protests and Pressure From Biden White House
Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva: The “judicial reform legislation will be frozen for the time being and brought up again during the Knesset’s summer session.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has temporarily paused the proposed judicial reform amid nationwide protests and mounting pressure from President Joe Biden’s White House.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have reached an agreement that the judicial reform legislation will be frozen for the time being and brought up again during the Knesset’s summer session,” Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva reported Monday afternoon.
Israeli TV channel i24news reported prime minister’s remarks:
“I am taking a break for dialogue. I am giving it a real opportunity for real dialogue to reach a wide agreement,” he said. “I have decided to pause the advancement of the law in this Knesset session in order to give time for negotiations and agreement.”
#BREAKING: @IsraeliPM Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister @itamarbengvir have agreed that the judicial reform legislation will be frozen for the time being and brought up again during the Knesset's summer session to allow for negotiations on the reforms.
— Israel National News – Arutz Sheva (@ArutzSheva_En) March 27, 2023
Ahead of the public announcement, the Israeli prime minister reportedly conveyed his decision to the Biden White House. “Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the U.S. administration that he would halt the legislation, media reported on Monday,” the Israeli TV channel i24news reported.
“The United States is deeply concerned by events in Israel and ‘strongly urges’ leaders there to find compromise as soon as possible, a White House spokesperson said on Sunday after the firing of Israel’s defense minister triggered mass protests,” the broadcaster added.
@netanyahu 's speech was historic. Our struggle, like our existence as a people in our land and for our freedom is eternal. We will persevere. We will restore our democracy from the hands of our unelected oligarchical elites. And we will safeguard our rights and our future.
— Caroline Glick (@CarolineGlick) March 27, 2023
Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister, Nationwide Protests and Counter Protests Continue
The move to freeze the judicial reform comes a day after Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed Defense Minister and fellow Likud party lawmaker Yoav Gallant after he came out publicly against his government’s judicial reform. “The prime minister told Gallant he lost his trust in the defense minister after he “went behind the government’s back” on Saturday evening, while Netanyahu was visiting the United Kingdom,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Large protests were reported in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ahead of the prime minister’s announcement, the Times of Israel reported:
Masses rallied across Israel on Monday ahead of an expected announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he was halting judicial overhaul legislation in the face of skyrocketing opposition.
In Jerusalem, some 100,000 people protested outside the Knesset, ahead of an expected right-wing counter-protest, while in Tel Aviv a group of demonstrators ran onto the Ayalon Highway, temporarily blocking traffic at Hashalom Interchange. Protests were also held in Haifa and Beersheba.
As the nation waited for Netanyahu’s address, the premier offered a brief statement in which he called on “protesters in Jerusalem, from the right and left, to act responsibly and without violence.”
The prime minister had originally been expected to speak in the morning, but his address was delayed again and again as he huddled with coalition leaders, amid reported threats by Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir to quit, and as Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich called on the right to show up in droves for the pro-overhaul rally.
The Jerusalem Post reported the planned right-wing counter-protest in Jerusalem:
Right-wing groups including Regavim, Im Tirzu, Ad Kan, Bezalmo and Torat Lehima, announced that they would be holding a counter-protest at 6 p.m. on Monday evening near the High Court of Justice in response to the protest against the judicial reform and the coalition being held in front of the Knesset.
Advertisements for the protest published online stated that the Right is in an “emergency situation,” warning that “they will not steal the elections from us.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir shared the advertisement on Twitter writing “today we stop being silent. Today is the day the Right wakes up. Share it forward.”
Police have begun preparing at the site amid concerns that the protesters could clash and the situation could escalate to violence.
The judicial reform proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu would have given Israel’s elected government the freedom to amend the constitution and appoint judges to the Supreme Court, a move bitterly opposed by the leftwing parties and activist groups.
“The controversial legal changes would have made the governing coalition all but immune to judicial review when appointing key cabinet officers and amending Israel’s constitutional framework. It would have also let the governing party and its allies handpick almost without any opposition Supreme Court justices,” the newspaper Israel Hayom noted Monday.
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Is he surrendering to tyrrany or is it a tactical maneuver?
He’s surrendering to tyranny. His heart was never in these reforms. His purpose in forming such a right-wing government was to frighten the center-left into joining him in order to “rescue the country from fascism”. Fortunately for Israel but unfortunately for him, the left dug its heels in and he was stuck with this right-wing coalition he had made. Now he’s looking for another opportunity to dump it and return to the partners he feels more comfortable with, to his left.
He’s not a surrendering kind of guy
He’s Alpha plus and has a head on his shoulders
Wow, such ignorance is exactly what I would expect from you. What part of Netanyahu’s long career of surrender and retreat would make anyone think he’s “not a surrendering kind of guy”, or that he’s an “alpha plus”?
Netanyahu is Israel’s answer to Lindsay Graham. He never wanted to do this necessary reform in the first place, and has been desperately looking for a way to surrender and stop it. Now he’s found one.
Exactly No one who pays attention to what Netanyahu does rather than what the press says, would call him “far-right”. He’s centre-right at best.
If these were reforms were being introduced by anyone else, we’d barely hear about them.
The Israeli left, the US State Dept and Brussels did not like the results of Israel’s last election. Demonstrations in Israel were large but not by the entire population. A counter demonstration by the right was late coming and neither the US, EU and their left wing allies on the ground wanted to see the opposition. Lots of moving parts in this show and mostly out of sight.
I wonder if China will try to move in
“… judicial reform … Israel’s elected government the freedom to amend the constitution and appoint judges to the Supreme Court.”
The Bidenites just didn’t want anyone getting there before them. What would their Screaming D’s do to them if that happened?
No one can interfere in our democracy, but we can interfere in others’ democracy.
Kind of like free speech for me, not thee.
The left is always against democracy when they lose.
For all of those above who have referred to “Our Democracy”, the United States of America, Thankfully, has never been a democracy. If you can’t even articulate our actual form of government then no one should listen to you.
When leftists don’t get there way, they throw a temper tantrum. Lapid and the Leftists lost the election, but for them that means nothing. They will get their way, elections be damned. In the US, Leftists burn down cities and rig elections. In Israel, they’re not there yet.
Israel has no constitution, so it can’t be amended. And elected governments are supposed to appoint judges. In what other country do they not?
As it should be. In no other country does the judiciary dare to even express an opinion on cabinet appointments, let alone claim a right to exercise “review”.
Well, that’s better than “constitution”. Israel has something that the courts have unilaterally decided to call a “constitutional framework”. But again, in what other country does the judiciary dare to claim a right to “review” changes to such a thing? Can you even imagine SCOTUS claiming a right to overturn constitutional amendments?!
And again, in what country is there such a thing as “opposition supreme court justices”? In most advanced countries it’s unthinkable for sitting judges to even express an opinion on their replacements, let alone to have a say in choosing them; and yet even the current proposed reform would leave the judiciary with three out of nine seats on the judicial selection committee. That’s three too many, but not enough for them.
Israel is, and has been for the last 30 years, a dictatorship. Elected governments come and go, but they have no say in anything. The actual government is composed of the judiciary and the career civil servants in the DOJ.
That has needed reform for 30 years, but Netanyahu, like most politicians, has never had the guts to do it. This time he was forced into supporting reform, by his coalition partners. He tried his best to dump them and form a government with the left, but the left would not have him. And the price the right extracted from him was these reforms. Now he’s found an excuse to dump it and hold negotiations with the left. I expect these to result in a new center-left government with him at the head but substantial real power to lie with the left, as it was in his last government.
You were right about Bibi. I was wrong. He needed to push this through. The left won.
What’s your opinion about what will happen now?
I don’t know what will happen, but I think I know what Netanyahu would like to happen, which is that the moderate left, i.e. Gantz, if not Lapid, as well as the anti-Netanyahu right, i.e. Sa’ar and Co. plus Lieberman, will agree to “save the country” by joining him in a coalition that will allow him to dump Smotrich and Ben-Gvir and squeeze the Haredim out of most of the things he promised them this time around.
I still think the only reason he formed this very right-wing coalition in the first place was in the hope of attracting Gantz to offer him an alternative, and he’s disappointed that it didn’t work. Now I think he’ll try that again.
The first thing you have to remember about Netanyahu is how, after the Rabin assassination, he completely changed his colors, campaigned on a promise to retain Oslo, and almost the first thing he did as prime minister was to give Hevron away to the terrorists. Peres negotiated the agreement to do that, but didn’t implement it. It took Netanyahu to actually do it. And the price, in deaths and injuries and fear, was paid by the Jewish residents exactly as predicted. That’s not the way a son of Benzion Netanyahu and a brother of Yoni Netanyahu could be expected to have behaved.
How do you suspect that the left managed to get so many to come out and protest? Did they pay people? Did they fly people in?
How is it possible that nobody sees this for the sham it is? Democracy is being assaulted? The reform bill is democratic. It gives power back to the people. How can so many people be so blind?
They did pay some people. That’s been thoroughly documented. But they have a lot of supporters.
Israelis have some very peculiar ideas about “the rule of law”. What they seem to mean by that phrase is the exact opposite of what it means in English. They seem to think it means the absolute rule of judges. This movement to take power back from the judiciary has been building for decades, but the mainstream politicians, including Netanyahu, have been opposing it every step of the way, because of their worship of “the rule of law”.
What we saw was the Israeli version of the Deep State orchestrating the so called “Resistance” and the secular Ashkenazi establishment against the winners of the election . When you hear leftists talk “democracy” that translates in plain English to power whether in the aid or in Israel where the High Court of Justice acts like a pre 196Os Jim Crow Court against the national security of Israel and in complete disdain of the values of Judaism and Zionism.It is tragic that Israel has a court full if the disciples of Aaron Barack as opposed to either the late Ruth Gavisson or for an American comparison Justice Scalia Judge Richard Posner or Judge Robert Bork who both viewed Barack as judicial activism unbounded and on steroids
In trying to get up to speed on Israeli politics I ran across this and, even though it was written almost 9 years ago, I thought it might be helpful to others.
Pretty superficial attack piece on Netanyahu and on the political right. And, because of course, on Sara Netanyahu as well; attacking her is standard in the anti-Netanyahu narrative, because she’s been painted as some sort of combination of Lady Macbeth, Isabel Peron, and Madame de Pompadour.
I, readily, admit to being almost totally ignorant of Israeli politics. I appreciate your response and your insights into the subject. Thank you.