Israeli friends of Netanyahu push on with law reform


The Israeli parliament on Monday adopted a bill that would make it harder to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the corruption charges against him, as it moved ahead with a bigger plan to revamp the country’s legal system in defiance of mass protests.

The plan, which would allow the parliament to designate a prime minister unable to rule exclusively for medical or mental grounds, received preliminary support from lawmakers in the Knesset during a late-night vote on the measure.

Later, the body was due to vote on a resolution allowing the Knesset to reinstate laws that had been declared invalid by the Supreme Court. Both proposals must receive more votes in order to become law.

The actions were the most recent in a string of reforms to Israel’s judicial system undertaken by Netanyahu’s administration. The attempt, according to the prime minister and his allies, aims to control an activist court. According to critics, the initiative would undermine the nation’s democratic checks and balances and consolidate power in Netanyahu’s and his parliamentary majority’s hands.

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In spite of demonstrations by tens of thousands of Israeli demonstrators over the past two months, Netanyahu and his coalition partners in the ultranationalist and religious movements have vowed to move forward with the legislation reforms. Israeli reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty if the revamp is approved, and business executives, legal professionals, and retired military officials have joined the protests.

In a late-night vote, the Knesset approved a plan that would shield Netanyahu from calls for his ouster and replace the existing statute that allows for a leader’s removal in other situations. The prime minister would have the authority to veto the new bill, which would need the support of three-quarters of the government.

Netanyahu, who won Israel’s fifth election in less than four years and returned to power late last year, attaches personal significance to the initiative. He is facing charges of fraud, betrayal of trust, and taking bribes; he vigorously contests the charges. The legal process has been drawn out for almost three years.

Advocates for good governance and other detractors have urged the nation’s attorney general to declare Netanyahu unfit for office.

Netanyahu attacked the Israeli media on Monday when addressing members of his Likud party, claiming they are disseminating a “never-ending tsunami of fake news” against him. He emphasized that the new legal system will promote Israeli democracy.

Orna Barbivai, a politician from the opposition, called the legislation “a shame, which indicates the prime minister is beyond the law.”

Due in part to the persecution they face within Israel as well as Israel’s treatment of their Palestinian brothers and sisters in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s 20%-of-the-population Palestinian minority has been mostly absent from the protests.



Raven Ruma is a professional journalist with a keen eye on domestic and foreign situations. His favorite pastime is to keep the public informed about the current situation through his pen and he is fulfilling this responsibility through the platform of Arab News.

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