The Israeli parliament approved a law this Thursday that makes it harder to disqualify the prime minister by limiting the reasons for his removal from office to physical or mental condition. Further, the norm takes away the prerogative of the legal advisor to the government to do so, which is a technical position with a lot of weight. In practice, the rule would prevent the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from being disqualified by the current counsellor, Gali Baharav-Miara, because of a potential conflict of interest involved in leading a reform to undermine the Supreme Court, implicating her on three counts. it was done. Cases of cheating, bribery and breach of trust. The measure, approved by the Knesset by 61 votes in favor and 47 against after a morning of debate, is the first of the controversial judicial reforms to become a reality. Hours later, Netanyahu has given his most conciliatory speech on the matter but has made it clear that he will carry the reform through to the end, despite widespread backlash at home, growing international criticism and the first signs of division within. Government.
Right now, one of the 14 Basic Laws (that work In fact (like the constitution that Israel lacks) allows for the “disqualification” of a prime minister, but does not detail the reasons why this is possible. The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court limits the tool to very specific cases, which is in the hands of the government’s legal advisor, a highly influential technical position because it advises the government, heads the attorney general’s office, and represents the state in court. Represents and public interest in legal matters.
The law approved this Thursday strips the legal advisor of that privilege and limits it to cases involving a physical or mental condition that prevents the prime minister from continuing to perform his functions. Only the prime minister or his government can do this with an affirmative vote of 75% of the ministers. If the rejection is ignored, the Parliament can implement it with the same majority.
Background is a conflict of interest agreement drafted in 2020 by Bahrav-Miara’s predecessor, Avijay Mandelblit, that bars Netanyahu from interfering in the appointment of judges or participating in the elaboration of legislation affecting their criminal proceedings . Neither of them prevented him from returning to power after winning the election in December, nor forced him to resign pending a final verdict.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the agreement remains binding and that its assessment of whether it is being violated coincides with a legal adviser appointed by the previous government, which met with Naftali Bennett and the current head of the opposition, Yair Lapid . Changed the post of Prime Minister. That’s why Bahrav-Miara last month called on Netanyahu to stay away from judicial reform. The prime minister – who he accuses of being guided by ideological reasons, not professional ones – has ironically in some public acts not commented on the subject because of a legal prohibition, although he does so often. In fact, the new law began to take shape after rumors spread that councilors were considering disqualifying Netanyahu and an NGO requested the Supreme Court.
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Late in the afternoon, Netanyahu appeared in front of cameras from Jerusalem to defend a “comprehensive agreement” that “allows to achieve balanced reforms” that “answers the fears and concerns” of both supporters and opponents “. We cannot allow any discrepancy to put us in jeopardy. (…) Neither the opponents of reform are traitors, nor the supporters fascists”, he assured.
The prime minister has promised that the reform – which in its current form would harm the separation of powers, weaken the Supreme Court and allow the government to pass laws struck down by the court – “reconciles the fundamental principles of all citizens of Israel. Will respect “We do not want a dominating supreme, but a balanced one,” he added.
Despite the change in tone, the gist is the same: The reform moves forward after hours of political fracas before the speech. In the middle of the afternoon, local media reported that Defense Minister Yoav Galant was preparing to publicly request the suspension of the reform. This would have been the first open opposition within the executive, with Gallant belonging to the right-wing Likud, the same party as Netanyahu.
Netanyahu then called Galant to a meeting, asking him for time and persuading him not to air their discrepancies publicly, national television’s Channel 11 reported. According to the channel, the minister showed him a worrying number of reservists, and even serving soldiers, if he persisted in reform, as well as being prepared to refuse to complete some missions for unspecified external threats. Are. In his speech, Netanyahu has limited himself to pointing out that he “takes into account” what the minister gave him (and that he did not specify), but to renounce the order ” there is no place.”
When, hours earlier, the media announced that Gallant would publicly request the suspension of the judicial reform, the stock market soared and the currency, the shekel – which has weakened against the dollar to its lowest value due to the results of the reform. 2019 – climbed 2.3%. National Security Minister and leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Itamar Ben Gvir, said in a statement that Gallant had “withdrawn from the camp of the right.” The shekel has weakened again after Netanyahu’s speech.
‘Day of paralysis’
Netanyahu delayed a flight to London on Friday that he had planned to take this afternoon to meet his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, to appear at the end of a new day of protests that included demonstrations, There have been encroachments and obstructions in many parts of the country. Most of the problems occur in Bnei Brak, the country’s largest ultra-Orthodox city, located near Tel Aviv, and where clashes have occurred between police and protesters, mostly secularists who do not live there.
On what organizers dubbed a “day of paralysis”, a group also blocked the vital Aylon highway leading out of Tel Aviv for more than two hours. In addition, around 2,000 people turned out to force Netanyahu to cancel the speech in the morning. They gathered outside the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. Other ministers have seen their speeches interrupted or had to enter events through side doors. The car of transport chief, Miri Regev, is covered with stickers saying: “A corrupt government” while she was taking part in an act. Police have reported 90 arrests and have also used water cannons to disperse protesters.
Thursday’s protests stem from a worsening of the crisis. They usually consist of small actions aimed at transforming daily life and symbolic interventions in many parts of the country. For example, this morning, a dot on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem is decorated with a national flag and the text of the Declaration of Independence.
They join 11 Saturdays in which hundreds of critics of judicial reform take to the streets, especially in Tel Aviv, for what they see as a blow to democracy and a separation of powers. The executive – made up of Netanyahu’s Likud and ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties – defines it as a necessary rebalancing in the face of a justice system it labels interventionist and politicized.
to put out many fires
Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the most right-wing government coalition in Israel’s seven-decade history, has been forced to put out several fires lit by members of his coalition over the past 48 hours.
The first has to do with the United Arab Emirates, which three years ago became one of three countries (along with Bahrain and Morocco) to break a taboo in the Arab world and establish ties with Israel before peace with the Palestinians. The alliance is strategic, as it is unusual for the Jewish state, and half a million Israelis (over 5% of the country’s population) have traveled to the Gulf country in just two years. Among them, Transport Minister Miri Regev, from the Netanyahu-led party, the right-wing Likud, and who said in the middle of a speech this week: “I was in Dubai, I won’t come back, I don’t come back like a place.” He then clarified that it was a joke (the tone doesn’t suggest so), but the controversy had already been served.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen arrived to record a video at an airport in Poland, where he was on a diplomatic visit, to underline the importance of relations “with Dubai and the Emirates”. Regev posted a video on Twitter of her speaking on the phone with the country’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, telling him she loves Dubai and claiming to be invited back. Already in 2017, she attracted attention when she took over the culture portfolio and went to the Cannes Film Festival wearing a dress depicting Jerusalem to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conquest of the eastern part of the city. six days.
It has also forced Netanyahu to respond to the “anti-missionary” bill. Asking an adult to change his religion is punishable by up to one year in prison (two years, if he is a minor). The promoters of the initiative, representatives of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism party, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher, presented it in January (as does every legislature, without success), but last week it was aired by Wet Media. Gone was the most pro-Israel American Christian right, a major supporter of Netanyahu. Facing a flood of calls, particularly from Christian Zionists, the prime minister tweeted (in Hebrew and English): “We will not pass any law against the Christian community.”
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