| 25 June 2024, Tuesday |

Israel opposition demands 18 month freeze in judicial overhaul

The leader of the parliamentary opposition in Israel urged that if the government wanted to begin talks on a consensus plan for the changes, it must postpone its judicial reform for 18 months.

The right-wing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed through the first components of a reform of Israel’s court last week, hoping to prevent judges from appealing certain government decisions. The actions have led to months’ worth of protests from Israeli opponents.

Netanyahu, who has been urged to seek consensus by Israel’s president, paused his overhaul earlier this year to hold talks with the opposition. But after those talks broke down, Netanyahu pressed ahead anyway, pushing last week’s bill through parliament in a narrow vote over an opposition boycott.

Speaking to parliament on Sunday, opposition leader Yair Lapid said that if the government wanted the consensus talks to resume, it should pass legislation jointly with the opposition to pause its overhaul for 18 months. Changes made during that period would require a two-thirds majority, he said.

“If the government wants to reach broad consensus, the burden of proof is on it,” Lapid said.

“As long as there is no freeze of the legislation, there is no point nor logic to discussing other laws or other agreements, because it is entirely clear that the government will again run away at the last moment.”

Netanyahu’s Likud Party, in response, said it was willing to negotiate but claimed that Lapid, who served briefly as prime minister last year, was demanding more conditions than he would insist on from the Palestinians.

Monday’s amendment limits the Supreme Court’s powers to void some government decisions if it deems them “unreasonable”.

Netanyahu’s coalition says the judicial changes are needed to push back against what it describes as overreach by a Supreme Court that it says has become too politically interventionist.

Critics say the changes will open the door to abuses of power by removing effective checks on the executive’s authority.

The Supreme Court agreed to discuss petitions to strike down the new law in September, setting the stage for a constitutional showdown.

  • Reuters