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Israel’s judicial overhaul causes rift in Netanyahu’s Likud party

March 26, 2023 at 6:04 pm

An aerial view of the streets as Israelis continue protests against the Israeli government’s plan to introduce judicial changes, seen by the opposition as an attempt to reduce the powers of the judicial authority in favor of the executive authority as part of the ‘Day of Resistance’ in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 25, 2023. [Amir Goldstein – Anadolu Agency]

Controversial judicial changes proposed by the Israeli government have caused divisions inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, local media reported on Sunday, Anadolu reports.

Israel has seen mass protests over the past three months against plans by the Israeli government for judicial reforms.

While Netanyahu insists the reforms would enhance democracy, the opposition considers them an attempt to shrink the powers of the judicial authority in favor of the executive.

On Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a Likud member, called on the government to halt the judicial overhaul, in a major blow to Netanyahu’s plans.

The Likud Party is the largest bloc in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), with 32 members in the 120-seat assembly.

Likud member Yuli Edelstein, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called for slowing down the reform plans.

“The majority of the people want and understand the need for changes in the judicial system, but this must be done with patience, dialogue, and broad discourse in order to reach a broad consensus,” Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted him as saying.

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Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter also called for suspending the judicial plans for one month to avoid an unprecedented rift in society.

MK David Bitan was also among Likud members to call on Netanyahu to temporarily halt his plans for judicial overhaul.

Supporters of the reforms, however, have called for the sacking of any members opposing the plans.

Senior Likud member Ofir Kats said whoever doesn’t vote in favor of the judicial overhaul has “ended his career in the Likud.”

He told Israeli Channel 14 that the country’s defense minister was mistaken in calling for a pause on the plans.

The planned changes would severely limit the power of the Supreme Court of Justice, give the government the power to choose judges, and end the appointment of legal advisers to ministries by the attorney general.

If enacted, the reforms would be the most radical changes ever to the Israeli system of government.

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