Thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plan for the 32nd week in a row in Tel Aviv on Saturday (August 12). The overhaul would see Israel’s Supreme Court lose much of its power.
Proponents of the legislation say it restores balance to the branches of government. The planned judicial overhaul has sparked national protests and criticism at home and abroad.
Last month, the government passed legislation that removed the court’s power to strike down government actions based on the action being classified as “unreasonable”.
Those protesting view the overhaul as an attempt to seize power, driven by Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal and political grievances. His ongoing trial for corruption charges adds further fuel to the protesters’ concerns about the motives behind the reform, along with the involvement of his allies.
It is pertinent to note that the United States urged Netanyahu to seek broad agreement on judicial reforms and to keep the judiciary independent.
In Israel, the system of “checks and balances” is relatively fragile. It has no constitution, only ‘basic laws’ meant to help safeguard its democratic foundations. The president’s office is largely ceremonial, so the Supreme Court is seen as a bastion of democracy, protecting civil rights and the rule of law.