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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Israel introduces sweeping judicial reforms

 For the eighth week in a row, tens of thousands of Israelis are demonstrating against the government and its judicial reforms.

According to Israeli media outlets, more than 100,000 Israelis are protesting around the country, with the main demonstration being held in Tel Aviv, 25,000 rallying in the northern city of Haifa and thousands gathering in front of the president’s residence in Jerusalem. There is even one in front of the house of Justice Minister Yariv Levin in the central city of Modiin, Xinhua news agency reported.

The protests are against the major overhaul of the judicial system, which was set in motion on February 13 when the administration initiated the legislative procedure for the reforms. The Israeli parliament has passed the first out of three readings of several relevant bills.

One of the bills is the “override clause” which will allow the parliament to override supreme court rulings with a simple majority. Another one would change the composition of the committee that appoints supreme court judges by giving the government a majority. A third aims to block the supreme court from reviewing the basic laws already passed by the parliament.

Demonstrators say the reforms will weaken the courts and give the ruling coalition unrestrained power.

The coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it aims to complete the legislative process until April. With a solid majority in the parliament, the votes are expected to pass without major contention.

Massive demonstrations are also planned for Wednesday when the coalition will continue to promote the legislation in parliament. The parliament is also slated to debate a bill that would prevent the state’s attorney general from declaring the prime minister incapacitated except for legitimate medical reasons.

According to Israeli media, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said earlier this month that Netanyahu cannot be involved in his government’s judicial reforms because he has a conflict of interests because of his ongoing corruption trial.

Netanyahu and his partners say the reforms are necessary in terms of limiting the judicial system which has become too powerful in recent decades and often intervenes in political issues that should be determined by the parliament, vowing to push forward with the reforms despite protests.

The Israeli prime minister also denies that the reforms are personally motivated to allow him to influence the outcome of his trial.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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