Mass protests, strikes expected in Israel following Knesset approval of clause limiting Supreme Court powers

Mass protests, strikes expected in Israel following Knesset approval of clause limiting Supreme Court powers
The Knesset's approval of a controversial judicial clause granting the government control over the appointment of judges has already triggered protests in the country, as well as potential strikes.
5 min read
24 July, 2023
Israelis are reacting to the controversial judicial overhaul bill by protesting and striking [Getty]

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The Israeli Knesset approved a controversial bill that will grant the country's far-right government control over the judiciary, Israeli media reported.

Protesters in Israel are staging protests, blocking highways and setting car tyres alight in response to the bill that was passed earlier today in parliament.

Israel's Medical Association said it would strike on Tuesday in response to the clause, with hospitals operating on a minimum capacity, the Times of Israel said.

Police have scuffled with a number of protestors, injuring them with water canon.

Further protests are expected throughout the week ahead.

Of 120 MKs, 64 voted in favour of the bill, which will curb the powers of the Supreme Court.

Among the voters was Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, who previously called for a compromise.

The Israeli opposition boycotted the vote and walked out following the bill's approval in protest.

Multiple last-minute attempts to amend the bill were also rejected.

Thousands of Israelis protested throughout the country hours before and during the final vote, with at least 19 people arrested by police. 

Police also used water canons to disperse demonstrators blocking the entrance to the Knesset, while two people have already been injured and hospitalised, according to Israeli media.

The bill has been the subject of mass protests in the country since the beginning of the year, with hundreds of thousands demonstrating on a near-weekly basis over fears that the overhaul will change the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee.

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The Knesset's final vote was also attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was discharged from hospital on Monday following an operation at the Sheba Medical Center to have a pacemaker fitted.

4:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

Protests expected to take place in Israel following judicial overhaul approval

Protests across various cities in Israel are expected to take place following the approval of a clause in Israel's judicial overhaul bill permitting the government control over the appointment of judges.

A demonstration will be held at 6pm local time in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

Demonstrations will also take place in Haifa.

4:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US calls judicial overhaul ratification 'unfortunate'

The US said that the Knesset's ratification of part of the judicial overhaul plan as 'unfortunate,' according to a White House spokesperson. In an official statement, The US "urged the Israeli government to work toward consensus through political dialogue."


2:31 PM
The New Arab Staff

Far-right lawmakers praise approved judicial overhaul bill

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called the passing of the controversial clause "good news" for Israel, which will be a "little bit more democratic" than today, reported Haaretz.

Ben-Gvir, a controversial extreme-right politician with a history of making inflammatory and racist comments on Palestinians, said that "this is only the beginning," with regards to the bill.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Yariv Levin said after the final vote that: "In an extraordinary move, we took the first step in the historical process of correcting the judicial system and restoring the powers taken from the government and the Knesset over many years."

Ben-Gvir in parliament amid readings for the contentious judicial overhaul bill [Getty]
1:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Knesset approves judicial reform bill

The Israeli parliament has approved a key clause of a controversial judicial reform plan that aims to curb the powers of the Supreme Court in striking down government decisions.

The text was approved by all 64 lawmakers from the ruling far-right coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with opposition MPs boycotting the vote.

Meanwhile, all 140 opposition reservations were rejected.

1:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Over a dozen arrested in Jerusalem amid judicial overhaul protests

19 people have been arrested in Jerusalem, police said amid mass protests on Monday over the final vote for the controversial judicial overhaul bill, which is currently being discussed in the Knesset.

12:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

Disagreements in Knesset over judicial overhaul bill

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has called for "compromise" with the opposition before the final vote in the Knesset takes place, while Justice Minister Yariv Levin and controversial far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have refused Gallant's proposal.

Levin, Ben-Gvir and Knesset member Simcha Rothman have threaten to dissolve the coalition if any changes to the bill are made, Haaretz said, citing coalition sources.

11:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli shopping centres, banks to go on strike ahead of judicial reform vote

Major shopping malls such as Azrieli, Shufersal and Fox said will go on  strike on Monday in protest against the judicial overhaul vote, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The shopping centres are among the 150 companies belonging to the Israeli Business Forum group.



11:24 AM
The New Arab Staff

Voting begins in Knesset begins on 'reasonableness' law

The Knesset has begun voting on the "reasonableness" law, barring judicial review of government and ministerial decisions on the grounds of "reasonableness," Israeli media reported Monday.

Israeli lawmakers will vote on 140 amendments before the final vote on the controversial bill.




10:01 AM
The New Arab Staff

Netanyahu seen arriving at Knesset following hospitalisation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen arriving at the Israeli parliament on Monday following his recent hospitalisation where he underwent surgery for a pacemaker.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Netanyahu was seen arriving with Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

9:53 AM
The New Arab Staff

Protesters injured outside Knesset moments before final vote on judicial overhaul

At least two people have been hospitalised after being struck by water canons as Israeli police attempted to disperse protesters blocking roads outside the Israeli parliament, where the final vote on the controversial judicial overhaul is set to take place on Monday.


Police can be seen removing protesters obstructing the way to the Knesset [Getty]
9:48 AM
The New Arab Staff

US embassy in Israel 'hopeful' for judicial reform agreement

A spokesperson for the US embassy in Israel said it closely keeping an eye on the judicial overhaul vote and is hoping for "a compromise" to be reached.

“We understand intensive discussions continue this morning to try and reach a compromise. We remain hopeful that an acceptable arrangement can be reached,” the spokesperson said, as cited by The Times of Israel.

The statement follows US President Joe Biden's comments that the far-right Israeli government shouldn't rush to a "divisive" bid to overhaul the country's judiciary.