Middle East Monitor / September 12, 2023
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that he will not allow anyone to prevent reaching a settlement on the judicial reform.
The statement comes after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir hinted that Netanyahu may “surrender” to those opposed to the controversial changes. “The reform is important to the State of Israel. It will balance the three authorities — the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Surrendering in the President’s Residence would mean humiliating more than half the nation … harming right-wing values,” Ben-Gvir said, adding that his party “will not support this surrender.”
In response, the PM’s office said Netanyahu is working “to reach a national agreement that will bring balance between the three authorities, the legislative, executive, and judicial,” noting that if such an agreement is reached, “nobody will prevent it from being implemented.”
Earlier in the day, National Unity leader Benny Gantz said: “In the last few days, the president advanced an outline in which I saw a base for widespread agreements that would protect the democracy and the value of a-politicization of the judiciary system and would give the other side an opportunity to influence to some degree because at the end of the day, the victory of one side or the surrender of the other will cost us dearly,” adding, “I’m not interested in Netanyahu’s motivation. If there is a solution on the table that will protect democracy, I will be there.”
The settlement plan presented by the Israeli president, which was leaked last week, stipulates that the government will legislate a less extreme reasonableness clause amendment in addition to freezing judicial reform legislation for 18 months.
Israel has been in political turmoil in recent months over the planned judicial reform by the Netanyahu government.
Advocates of the overhaul, which grants almost complete control of bench appointments to the right-wing coalition government, say the Supreme Court is elitist, left-leaning and overreaching, and that elected officials should have more power in picking judges.
Opponents say this would politicize and weaken a strong Supreme Court that plays a major role in Israel’s democratic checks and balances; maintaining a separation between the judiciary and state. They also point out that the planned changes come as Netanyahu faces several counts of corruption.