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Netanyahu: 1, Supreme Court: 0

The Oasis Reporters

July 25, 2023







People protest judicial reform in Jerusalem. A protester lifts placards during a demonstration near the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 24.Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a major legislative win. On Monday, the Knesset passed a ruling that struck down part of Israel’s reasonableness standard in a devastating blow to the country’s opposition and democratic judiciary.

Under the standard, Israel’s Supreme Court could scrap executive branch decisions and appointments if deemed “extremely unreasonable.”

The standard was last invoked in January after Netanyahu appointed parliamentarian Arye Dery to be a cabinet minister. Dery’s appointment was rejected on the grounds that he had a criminal record, including charges of tax evasion, corruption, bribery, and fraud.

By putting the reasonableness standard to the chopping block, Netanyahu and other members of his ruling Likud party can now appoint or dismiss anyone they’d like without having to answer to the country’s highest court. What that means is that Israel may see a slew of controversial executive branch additions and firings in the coming months, such as potentially sacking Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara.

Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed interest in ousting Miara after she said in March that the prime minister had violated a conflict of interest law that forbids him from governing during his corruption trial; Netanyahu has been under investigation since November 2019 over charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery—all of which he continues to deny.

The bill’s passage on Monday is Netanyahu’s first win in a monthslong effort to enact sweeping judicial change after nationwide demonstrations in January stalled his larger reform package. Already, thousands of Israelis have gathered on the streets to protest the bill, demanding greater accountability for their elected officials in what some experts have coined Israel’s Arab Spring moment.

Rights groups have said they will petition the Supreme Court to strike down the new law; foreign leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, have called on Netanyahu not to move forward with more judicial reform; and the nation’s largest union, Histadrut, announced on Monday that it will begin negotiations to kick-start a labor strike in protest.

“This is the destruction of Israeli democracy,” said opposition leader Yair Lapid. “We will not give up. We will not surrender. We will not let them turn Israel into a broken, undemocratic country, which is run by hatred and extremism.”

By Foreign Policy.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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