The Israeli parliament has passed a law that restricts the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn decisions made by the government. The law, which was approved by a 64 to 56 vote on Monday, prevents judges from striking down government decisions on the basis that they are “unreasonable”. The law is part of a broader judicial overhaul plan proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right allies, who claim that the changes are necessary to curb the powers of unelected judges and give more authority to elected officials.
However, the law has sparked massive protests across the country, with critics accusing Netanyahu and his coalition partners of undermining the independence and oversight of the judiciary. They argue that the law is motivated by personal and political interests, as Netanyahu is facing corruption charges and his allies have controversial agendas such as expanding West Bank settlements, annexing occupied territories, and limiting the rights people and Palestinians. Protesters have also expressed concern that the law will erode the system of checks and balances in Israel, which does not have a formal constitution, and push the country toward authoritarianism.
The law has also drawn criticism from Israel’s closest ally, the United States, which has repeatedly urged Netanyahu to reconsider his judicial reform plan. U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the law and its implications for Israel’s democracy and rule of law. He added that there was “no sense in rushing reforms that could have lasting and irreversible consequences for Israel’s future”.
The law still needs to pass two more readings in parliament before it becomes final. However, opposition lawmakers have vowed to challenge the law in the Supreme Court, which could potentially strike it down as unconstitutional. The Movement for Quality Government, a civil society group, has already announced that it will file a petition against the law in the court. Meanwhile, more mass demonstrations are expected in the coming days, as protesters demand that Netanyahu and his government respect the judiciary and uphold democratic values.