Israeli woke up Thursday morning to images of yet another day of massive protests around the country condemning the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As if the government’s controversial judicial reform plan were not enough of a reason to motivate the protestors, overnight the Knesset passed a separate law known as the “Impeachment Law” that prevents Israel’s Supreme Court from ruling to order that a person can no longer serve as prime minister.
Highways were once again blocked, protestors were out in force in the early morning hours outside of the homes of cabinet ministers, and even the roads leading to ports were blocked.
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The new law, which passed in the middle of the night by a vote of 61-47, requires a two thirds majority in the Knesset – 80 – votes – to remove a prime minister from office. The 80 seat requirement is overkill because a majority vote can dissolve the Knesset and force new elections, or, an absolute majority of 61 can remove a sitting government with a new one.
The law was passed, charges the opposition, only because Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is currently on trial, is afraid that he will be convicted of corruption charges and would be forced to resign from office even if he appeals a conviction.
Massive protests have rocked Israel over the past few months, ever since Justice Minister Yariv Levin revealed the government’s plans to alter the nature of Israel’s judicial system. The government’s judicial reform plan would greatly curtail the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify legislation passed by the Knesset and also limit the authority of Israel’s attorney general. The opposition charges this would harm Israel’s democracy, eroding foreign confidence in the country and hurting its economy. And this is why the country is now on the brink of what some are describing as the biggest societal clash in Israel’s history.
The leader of the opposition in the Knesset and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid mocked the coalition for passing the new law in the middle of the night.
“Like thieves in the night, the coalition has now passed an obscene and corrupt personnel law,” he said.
“The citizens of Israel knew – just before the holidays, while the cost of living is skyrocketing, once again Netanyahu only cares about himself,” added Lapid. “Sitting in the plenum and looking at the Likudniks. Shrunken, humiliated, and knowing that they were dragged here in the middle of the night to vote on a shameful personnel law born from yet another delusional and conspiratorial rumor.”
Yair Lapid’s fellow opposition leader Avigdor Liberman, who was once a long time political ally of Benjamin Netanyahu and who is now a “never Netanyahu,” also slammed the new law saying, “We will not allow the State of Israel to become a Netanyahu monarchy.”
Come the end of March, Benjamin Netanyahu will have served for a total of roughly 15 years and six months as the prime minister of Israel. Since March 31 2019, he has served for more than 13 and a half out of the last 15 years in that role. The opposition was able to form a government without him in the elections of June 2021 and that government last about 18 months.