Monday, September 11, 2023

Protests Begin at Israeli Justice Minister’s Home Ahead of Key Judicial Overhaul Hearing


Israeli Protesters Gather Outside Justice Minister’s Home Ahead of Supreme Court Case

Scores of Israeli protesters flooded the streets outside the home of Israel’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, on Monday, in opposition to the country’s divisive judicial overhaul. The protests come a day before the Supreme Court is set to hear a crucial case against the curbing of its powers.

The Israeli police reported the arrest of six individuals in the central Israeli town of Modiin on charges of disrupting public order and blocking roads during the protests. The demonstrators, numbering around 200, expressed their opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and its plans to weaken the Supreme Court. This judicial plan has caused one of the largest domestic crises in Israeli history, highlighting the deep divisions within the country.

On Tuesday, all 15 of Israel’s Supreme Court justices will convene for the first time ever to hear an appeal against the initial major part of the judicial overhaul. This overhaul was pushed through parliament by the government in July.

The protesters outside Levin’s home were boisterous, blowing horns, chanting through megaphones, and brandishing signs. They clashed with the police, who pushed back against the crowds. After a few hours, Levin left his besieged home in a black car surrounded by police officers and security guards who attempted to clear a path for him through the swarm of protesters.

Further demonstrations are expected this week as the Supreme Court hears petitions from rights groups and individuals calling for the law passed by parliament to be struck down. This law cancels the court’s ability to block government actions and appointments using the legal concept that they are “unreasonable.”

These hearings place the country’s top justices in an unprecedented position of defending their own independence and ruling on their own fate. The court faces immense public pressure to strike down the law and has a vested interest in preserving its powers and independence. However, if it does so, Netanyahu’s government could choose to ignore the ruling, potentially leading to a crisis over who holds ultimate authority.

Levin, a close ally of Netanyahu who has spearheaded the judicial overhaul, has argued against proposals to seek a compromise with the opposition and soften the current changes. Critics of the overhaul view it as a threat to democracy, asserting that Israel’s judiciary serves as the primary check on the powers of the prime minister and his majority coalition in parliament. They also argue that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest in attempting to change the legal system while facing corruption charges.

Supporters of Netanyahu’s far-right, ultra-Orthodox government believe that the law will prevent liberal, unelected judges from interfering with the decisions made by elected lawmakers. They also argue that the court should not have the authority to rule on a law that limits its own power.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear this crucial case, tensions are running high in Israel. The outcome of these hearings will have far-reaching implications for the country’s democracy and the balance of power between the government and the judiciary.

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