Israel: New rallies against stalled justice reform

New rallies are being held in Israel on Thursday to condemn a reform of the judicial system seen as a threat to democracy and carried out by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which rejected the president’s calls for a compromise .

The reform, many provisions of which have already been adopted in parliament in the first reading, “democracy is over”, can we read on a sign held in the center of Tel Aviv, while other demonstrations were held in Haifa (north) go ) or Jerusalem.

“I fear this place will become a theocratic state, Jewish laws will come to the fore and democratic freedom as we know it no longer exists,” Liat Zvi, a 52-year-old researcher at Tel Aviv University, told AFP.

The protest movement began in early January following the presentation of reforms by the Netanyahu government, formed in December with right-wing, far-right and ultra-conservative parties.

Protesters vehemently denounced the project, which is intended to limit the prerogatives of the Supreme Court but is also general government policy, and blamed the prime minister, who has been accused of corruption in several cases. want to use the law to quash any judgment condemning him.

On Tuesday, parliament adopted a provision in the first reading, making it possible to overturn some Supreme Court decisions by a simple majority, ie 61 deputies out of 120, (the contempt clause). Other censured provisions, especially those on the procedure for appointing judges, had already been adopted in February in the first reading.

Voting is still required on the second and then third reading before the reform bill can become law.

Mr Netanyahu and his allies see the reform as necessary to restore a balance of power between elected officials and the Supreme Court, which they see as apolitical.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog presented a draft agreement on the reform project on Wednesday but the government immediately opposed it.

Mr. Herzog said, “Anybody who thinks a civil war is impossible has no idea how close we are to (…) a settlement.”

Mr Netanyahu claimed the deal was not accepted by the ruling coalition and that “the key points of his program only maintain the existing status quo and do not bring about the necessary balance between powers”.

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