Israel: Israeli parliament votes on a major measure of justice reform

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s parliament on Monday passed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial measure to limit the power of the Supreme Court, the Knesset speaker said, while the head of the main labor union said he was considering a general strike.

The bill was passed by 64 MPs from the ultra-conservative ruling coalition, while those in the opposition boycotted the vote and skipped the full session in protest.

Immediately after the vote, a monitor and leader of the centrist party said they would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Arnon Bar-David, president of the Histadrut Trade Union Federation, announced that he would meet with union officials to discuss the possibility of a general strike.

His union tried to bring about an agreement between the government and the opposition. Arnon Bar-David said the differences were minor, but mediation efforts failed because of political whims.

“From this moment on, any unilateral progress in reform will have serious consequences (…) Either things will move forward with a broad agreement, or they will not move forward at all”, Arnon Bar-David threatened.

Despite the outcry, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the architect of the reform project presented by Benjamin Netanyahu as necessary to balance the branches of government, wanted to remain positive.

“We have taken the first step in a historic and important process of repairing the judicial system and restoring the powers taken away from the government and the Knesset (parliament),” he said during a speech.

Thousands of people protesting the judicial reform project have demonstrated in Jerusalem against the controversial justice reform that plunges Israel into its most serious political crisis in decades.

(Reporting by Mayan Lubel, Dan Williams, Steven Scheer, Ari Rabinovich and Henriette Chaker with contributions; French version Zifan Liu and Augustin Turpin; Editing by Kate Enstringer)

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