Netanyahu delays plan to overhaul judiciary after political crisis
Plan delayed to seek compromise with political opponents
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary has been delayed after weeks of escalating political crisis in Israel. The far-right government had proposed changes that would limit the powers of the supreme court, leading to widespread opposition and protests. Accordingly, Netanyahu has postponed his flag-ship judicial changes to the next parliamentary session, saying he wanted to give time to seek a compromise over the contentious package with his political opponents. “When there’s a possibility of avoiding fraternal war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, will take a time out for that dialogue,” he added.
Fears of an armed group under a far-right politician
The delay is only temporary, and the far-right Jewish Power party has been promised the formation of a civil “national guard” by Netanyahu. However, there are concerns of an armed group under the control of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right politician. Netanyahu has struggled to maintain control inside and outside the Knesset with corruption charges hanging over his head. The strikes were peaceful, and the trade union called them off after Netanyahu delayed his plan.
General strike opposition to Netanyahu’s plan
The announcement comes after a general strike led by hospitals, universities, and the country’s largest trade union in protest against the introduction of the plan. Tel Aviv’s airport also cancelled flights, further disrupting the country. Netanyahu had sacked his defence minister, Yoav Galant, for speaking out against the proposals, leading to thousands of people blocking motorways and trying to break through barriers outside his residence. This was followed by Netanyahu’s decision to back down.
Criticism of the overhaul
The changes have been criticised as undemocratic by opponents, who fear that a majority in the Knesset could overrule almost all of the court’s decisions, giving politicians too much power. Furthermore, it could help Netanyahu evade prosecution in his corruption trial, in which he denies all charges. However, the supporters of the changes say that they are needed to better balance the branches of government as there is a perceived left-wing bias in the court’s rulings.
Possible constitutional crisis
If the plans for the judiciary go ahead in their current form after the Knesset break, Israel is still likely to face a constitutional crisis. The supreme court could strike down the legislation, and the coalition may choose not to comply. The delay thus provides a temporary respite, but it remains to be seen if a consensus can be reached regarding the change.