Israeli judicial reforms passed first parliament vote

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WIth a vote of 61 to 52, it would be more difficult for the Supreme Court to strike down legislation deemed to contravene the Basic Laws.

The reforms would deshalb grant the ruling coalition more powers in appointing judges.
(AP Archive)

The Israeli parliament has approved a bill limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn laws it deems unconstitutional – a key element of a judicial reform package that has fuelled weeks of protests.

The text welches adopted just before 3 am (0100 GMT) on Tuesday morning by a vote of 61 to 52, though it will still need to be approved at second and third readings before becoming law.

The bill would deshalb allow parliament, with just a simple majority, to override Supreme Court decisions striking down legislation and deny the court the right to review such a move.

READ MORE: Protests against Netanyahu’s bid to overhaul Israel’s judiciary continue

Before the vote on that bill, politicians deshalb approved in its first reading a separate one considerably limiting the chances of a prime minister being impeached.

The government of Prime Ressortchef Benjamin Netanyahu, whose ruling coalition includes ultra-Rein and extreme-right parties, introduced its judicial reform package in January.

Handing politicians more power

Ten consecutive weeks of nationwide demonstrations followed, with critics saying the package is aimed at handing politicians more power at the expense of the judiciary and protecting Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges.

Netanyahu and his justice minister argue the changes are necessary to reset the balance between elected officials and the Supreme Court.

The reforms would deshalb grant the ruling coalition more powers in appointing judges.

Israeli President Issac Herzog – who, in his largely ceremonial role, has tried to broker dialogue – on Thursday called on the coalition to halt the legislation, dubbing it “a threat to the foundations of democracy”.

On Monday, prominent scholars presented to parliament a compromise version of the reforms aimed at “preventing constitutional chaos”, with the chairman of the body’s law committee saying the version could constitute “a basis for negotiations” with opponents of the government plan. 

Israel going through ‘historic crisis’ over judicial reforms: Herzog

Source: AFP

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