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Massive Protests Continue as Supreme Court Agrees to Hearing on Whether Benjamin Netanyahu Should Be Removed from Office

benjamin netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu (screenshot)

Even the worst heat wave in anyone’s memory could not stop the protest movement against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing with its activities. Saturday night saw the 28th consecutive week in which masses of people took to the streets immediately after the end of Shabbat to demonstrate against a government plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system. Over 150,000 people were estimated to have demonstrated on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, a main thoroughfare, blocking traffic.

Part of the proposed reform plan includes a drastic alteration of the judicial selections committee which would give the sitting government a majority of its seats. Today, a majority of the committee is comprised of justices and representatives from Israel’s bar association.

It would also end judicial review in Israel. The plan includes a new law that would allow an absolute majority of 61 out of the 120 members of the Knesset to override any ruling by the Supreme Court that overturned a law.

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This is what really bothers opposition groups. They fear that this would end judicial review in Israel, harming its democracy and allow the government to assume even more powers for itself.

And Now Benjamin Netanyahu is in a jam himself. He is already on trial for corruption charges. But he was not forces to leave office due to his indictment as any other cabinet minister would have been. This was due to the fact that he is the head of the government and not just another minister.

But it is also because Netanyahu signed a conflict of interest agreement with Israel’s former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit in which he pledged not to get involved in judicial legislation before the Knesset that could affect the outcome of his trial. But some say that5 he has done just that with the judicial reform plans.

The Fortress of Democracy protest group, led by former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court on that basis and the court agreed to hear them out. Their complaint was based on a letter signed by Israel’s current attorney general Baharav-Miara in March that said Netanyahu violated his promise by pushing through a law back then that prevents the Supreme Court from removing a prime Minister from office.

So, for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the petitioners it would also, in effect, need to overturn the law that was passed.

This places the court in a tough situation. Should it rule against Netanyahu, then his government would say that its action is just proof of why the reforms are needed. Also, Benjamin Netanyahu may very well choose to ignore the court’s ruling, thereby igniting Israel’s first serious “constitutional” crisis in its history.

Israel’s coalition government is already calling foul over the decision by the Supreme Court to even hear the petition.

“We are shocked by the decision to hear the petition, particularly after the Knesset passed legislation that prevents the removal of an elected prime minister with such false claims,” its members said in a joint statement released on the matter. “This is a slippery slope [that could cause] grievous harm to democracy and the will of the people.”



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