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Judicial overhaul charges ahead with economic, security and social costs

TJI Wrap
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Published: 14 July 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Key bill passes first reading, demonstrators arrested; cost estimated at $A60 billion.

The Knesset has passed the first reading of a bill that would strike down the reasonableness standard and make it easier for politicians to override the Supreme Court.  The bill passed by a vote of 64 to 56.  It must clear two additional Knesset votes to pass into law.

The bill – an amendment to Israel's Basic Law on the Judiciary – states that “those who have the authority to adjudicate the law, including the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, will not judge or issue an order against the cabinet, the prime minister, a minister or any other elected official as determined by law, regarding the reasonableness of their decision.”

Abolishing the reasonableness standard is regarded as a key component of the Netanyahu-led government's plan to weaken the country's judicial system. An ammendment presented on Tuesday would slightly softent the bill to retain the reasonableness standard in mayoral appointments.

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in response, and at least 80 people were arrested, including some who invaded the Knesset floor during the vote.

The “day of resistance” began in the early morning with thousands of protesters taking to the streets of cities and towns across Israel. Main roads were blocked in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, leading to clashes with police and dozens of arrests.

In the afternoon, more than 10,000 protesters gathered at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Carrying signs and flags, the protest took place both in and around the largest terminal. This demonstration took place after Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara confirmed that the law does not prohibit demonstrations at the airport.

A second "day of resistance" is planned for Monday with calls for a general strike and a pledge from the Israeli Medical Association, which represents doctors, to "use all means at their disposal" to oppose the bill.

Some 300 reservists in cyberwarfare units issued a letter on Tuesday saying they would not show up for volunteer reserve duty.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, whose concerns about the judicial overhaul earlier this year  caused a pause, expressed concerns about military refusal in the wake of the decision.

There is also widespread concern about the economic costs of the move.

An estimate this week found the Israeli economy had lost 150 billion shekels ($A60 billion) due to resistance to the Government’s judicial overhaul.

In the past year, 80% of new start-ups chose to register abroad, investment in new companies was down 90% , the shekel has reduced in value and the stock market is estimated to have forfeited profits of $135 billion shekels ($54 billion).

Netanyahu government advances key judicial overhaul bill, setting stage for nationwide protests (Haaretz)  

Dozens arrested as Israelis hold countrywide 'Day of Resistance' against judicial coup (Haaretz)  

Thousands of protesters square off with cops at airport as masses rally nationwide (Times of Israel)

Anti-judicial overhaul protest leaders call for another day of disruption for second week in a row (Haaretz)

Over 150 billion shekels: The Judicial Overhaul's devastating cost to Israel's economy so far (Haaretz)  

300 cyberwarfare reservists say they won’t volunteer for duty, as overhaul advanced (Times of Israel)

Israeli government revises key judicial overhaul bill on 'reasonableness standard' (Haaretz)

Only a government bent on doing the unreasonable would move to ensure that the justices cannot defend against it (David Horovitz, Times of Israel)

Ahead of Unprecedented Chaos in Israel, Will Netanyahu Attack or Retreat? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz)  

As the Knesset advances a key law aimed at dismantling the Israeli judicial system,  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is spooked. But who scares him more: His far-right coalition partners or the defiant protesters on the street?

Photo: Protesters against the judicial overhaul fill the roads in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night (Tomer Appelbaum)

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