Israeli Parliament Passes Controversial Judicial Reform Bill to Curtail Supreme Court’s Power

25 July, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava

Israel World

The Isreali Supreme Court, according to the prime minister Netanyahu and his supporters, has turned into an exclusive, elitist group that does not speak for the Israeli people.

Israel’s Parliament Knesset on Monday 24 July passed the controversial “reasonableness” bill, which is considered the first major legislation in the government’s plan to undermine the judiciary. The bill was passed by a vote of 64-0, with all the members of the governing coalition voting for it while on the other hand, all the members of the opposition coalition walked out of the chamber during the roll call vote that was happening in the parliament.

The bill was passed despite a Six-month long protest and huge American pressure against the ruling coalition’s decision to bring it into law. The controversial reasonableness bill bars the Supreme Court of Israel from the power to proclaim government decisions unreasonable.

Lawmakers on Sunday began the thorough debate & discussion on the bill which continued until the next morning. This complex Judicial overhaul divided the country, with thousands of people taking to the streets to protest against the government’s decision.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached the Parliament, a little after he was released from the hospital.

Changes in the Judicial Reform Bill Introduced by Israeli Government

A group of proposals known as the “judicial overhaul” must receive three votes in the Knesset to pass. While Netanyahu and his supporters claim it is intended to restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, others claim it endangers Israeli democracy and the independence of the judiciary.

The Israeli judiciary is not the only one to use the reasonableness concept. The United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are a few nations that apply the theory.
The criteria enable judges to ensure that choices made by public authorities are “reasonable” and are frequently utilized by courts there to examine the constitutionality or legality of specific legislation.

Other changes would eliminate independent legal advisers from ministries and give the right-wing government more authority over the appointment of judges. The legislative procedure for other legislation has not yet progressed as far as it has for the reasonableness bill.

The Supreme Court, according to the prime minister and his supporters, has turned into an exclusive, elitist group that does not speak for the Israeli people. They claim it has overstepped its bounds and ruled on matters it should not have.

The prime minister has cited nations like the United States, whose political leaders have control over who is selected and confirmed as a federal judge, to defend his proposals. Meanwhile, critics claim PM Netanyahu is pushing the overhaul further to protect himself from the charges of corruption, fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. He rejected all the claims.

The strongest Israel ally United States has stated its deep concern over the ongoing overhaul. US President Joe Biden last week while talking with New York Times Thomas Friedman said: “This is obviously an area about which Israelis have strong views, including in an enduring protest movement that is demonstrating the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which must remain the core of our bilateral relationship.” He also added Prime Minister is risking the US-Israel relationship.