Israeli Parliament Votes to Limit Judiciary Amid Months of Protests

July 24, 2023

Lawmakers in Israeli parliament, called the Knesset, voted to approve a proposal to limit ways judges can overrule the government. 

Massive protests have been raging for months across Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system, including the now-approved changes to limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to rule against the legislative and executive branches of the government.

The 73-year-old Prime Minister, who survived a no confidence vote in the Knesset in March, was present for Monday’s vote after spending 30 hours in the hospital over the weekend being fitted with a pacemaker.

Netanyahu had pledged sweeping reforms to Israel’s judicial system when he was sworn in for his sixth term in December. His ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox coalition government has since been pushing for changes to limit the Israeli Supreme Court power. The government coalition also wants more say in appointing judges. 

Monday’s Knesset vote came after a passionate session of parliament in which opposition lawmakers chanted “shame” and then stormed out of the chamber.

The nationwide protests, which at times have crippled Israel, are in reaction to what demonstrators see as a power grab fueled by the personal and political grievances of Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges.

In his address to U.S. Congress this past Wednesday, in what appeared to be a lightly veiled reference to Netanyahu’s plans for the judiciary, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who holds a figurehead title, noted that since 1949, Israel has evolved into an “exquisite democracy” that takes pride in its “protection of minorities, human rights and civil liberties” as laid down by the Knesset, and is “safeguarded by its strong Supreme Court and independent judiciary.”

PHOTO: Israeli Judiciary Protest, February 13, 2023

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