Israel is in turmoil after judicial overhaul vote. What now?


What happens next?

This is far from over. Protests will continue and more judicial changes are coming.

In an ironic twist it’s possible that Israel’s judges could end up deciding the fate of the “reasonableness” bill. The Movement for Quality Government, a good governance group, has filed a petition to the court arguing that the change is illegal.

Future proposed laws would give the government greater powers to appoint judges and remove ministries’ independent legal advisers. 

No demonstrations were expected Tuesday, but protest groups have vowed to carry on as Netanyahu plans to bring the rest of his judicial changes to parliament. 

“The government of the destruction of the house voted to crush the State of Israel as we knew it — we will fight them to the end,” the Black Flags protest group said in a statement.

Histradut, the nation’s trade union umbrella group, said after Monday’s votes that it would convene a meeting of its members to discuss a general strike.

The covers of Israeli newspapers Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronot and Israel Hayom on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
The covers of Israeli newspapers Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom reflected much of the public’s mood Tuesday. Paul Goldman / NBC News

But while the government has shown no signs of relenting, the sheer size of the opposition to Netayahu’s changes could be too much, some predict. 

“The protests and other pressures, such as what Biden might do and the economy, that all might restrict this plan,” said Rahat. “I think they did not predict this amount of rejection.”

President Joe Biden has repeatedly urged Netanyahu not to impose his judicial plan on an angry public, with the White House again making this clear in a statement Monday, adding that the president has been a “lifelong friend” to Israel.  

The columnist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times suggested that only Biden has the power to stop Netayahu’s plan. 

Netanyahu, who has survived numerous political crises over his many years in power and is now on trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, which he denies, may ultimately lose out in this quest to remake Israel’s judicial system.

“Netanyahu is riding the back of a tiger, but sometimes the tiger takes him places he doesn’t want to be taken,” Rahat said.


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