Israel government to go ahead with judicial law bill as opposition warn 'this is war'

Israel government to go ahead with judicial law bill as opposition warn 'this is war'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will push ahead with a controversial new law that will see an overhaul of the judiciary despite huge opposition to the plan.
2 min read
20 March, 2023
Israel has been submerged in protests over the judicial overhaul [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to proceed with a controversial new law that has submerged his government in a new crisis but appears willing to make some concessions.

In a statement on Monday Netanyahu appeared to accept a proposal by far-right Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman that the government appoints two Supreme Court judges while the rest will need to be approved by at least one member of the opposition and another judge.

"We are extending a hand to anyone who genuinely cares about national unity and the desire to reach an agreed accord," the coalition statement said.

The Black Flag protest movement rejected the outreach as "a transparent attempt to put the protest to sleep with pretty words", Reuters reported.

Previously, the government wanted to establish a panel made up of three cabinet ministers, two coalition lawmakers, and two public figures chosen by the government - spelling a 7-4 vote majority - deciding the judicial appointments.

The new changes would see this panel expanded to 11 members with fewer powers for the government that the previous proposal with three cabinet ministers, three coalition lawmakers, three judges, and two opposition lawmakers, according to Reuters.

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Israel's opposition and members of the military have decried the government's plan to appoint high court judges which it says will push the country into a dictatorship, while Palestinians, already deprived of the same rights as Jewish Israelis, say it will worsen their situation.

The planned judicial overhaul has seen mass protests across Israel, particularly in Tel Aviv where activists have managed to close major roads and besiege Netanyahu's residence. Internationally, the UN and Israel's allies have also voiced concerns about the issue.

So far, the opposition looks as though it will reject the proposed changes to the overhaul, which they say still grants the government too many powers.

"[The government] decided to divide our nation and carry out a hostile takeover of the Supreme Court," the protest movement responded, according to Haaretz.

"This isn't a softer proposal, but rather a declaration of war by the Israeli government against its people and Israeli democracy."

The overhaul, it insists, "is the first chapter in turning Israel into a dictatorship".

US President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu on Sunday about the issue saying he backed the compromise.

Gur Bligh, the committee’s legal adviser, told Haaretz that the proposal would see Palestinian citizens of Israel without any say in the matter due to its exclusion from the government coalition.