Despite strong opposition from hundreds of thousands of Israeli people for dozens of weeks, the Netanyahu’s government in the Knesset finally approved the first part of the judicial overhaul plan this Monday.
Closing eyes and ears on the months-long protests in the streets of Israel attended by hundreds of thousands of Israeli people against the judicial overhaul plan, the Knesset finally approved the first part of the bill and moved it one important step forward in the path of turning the controversial proposal into law. The bill will significantly limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to review government decisions.
The bill was passed by a vote of 64-0, with all members of the governing coalition voting for it. All members of the opposition left the chamber while the roll call vote was taking place. It is the first major piece of the multi-pronged judicial overhaul plan to be passed by the Knesset.
Immediately after the bill was put to vote in Israel’s Parliament, angry protestors surrounded the Knesset’s building in Jerusalem. The mass demonstration outside the Knesset, continued for hours and anti-judicial overhaul protesters even set up hundreds of tents in Sacher Park, a large recreational area in the city.
The same was going on in Tel Aviv, where after the main demonstration there, protesters briefly blocked the Ayalon highway. Police went to remove them from the street and scuffles between police and protesters ensued.
What are the consequences of opposing peoples’ will for Netanyahu’s government?
What is clear as crystal is that Netanyahu’s government should not expect the protest to subside any time soon, even if Netanyahu himself publicly promises that any future legislation will be done by consensus.
To make matters even worse, opposition to the overhaul has also reached Israel’s security establishment with members of the military protesting the bill and more than 1,000 Air Force reservists threatening to stop volunteering if the bill turns into law. This means a division between the state and people in Israel, as well as a huge crack in the body of Israel’s political and military establishments, the security implications of both of which cannot be neglected. Therefore, it would not be too far from reality if we see an Israel from now on that is less secure, more chaotic and, and more prone to internal violence
The law’s passage creates economic uncertainty, as well. In the hours before the vote, Israeli stocks began to fall and the shekel weakened. According to a report by the Times of Israel, immediately after the passage of the judicial overhaul plan this Monday, “tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s benchmark TA-125 index falls 1% and TA-35 index of blue-chip companies declines 0.8%, while the TA-90 index is down 0.9%. The Tel Aviv index of the five largest banks is down 0.8% and the TA-Insurance & Financial Services declines 0.5%”.
Last but not least, the bill will have negative impacts on Israel’s relations with its allies, especially the United States. On this Sunday, US President Joe Biden again publicly encouraged Netanyahu to slow the reforms. “From the perspective of Israel’s friends in the United States, it looks like the current judicial reform proposal is becoming more divisive, not less,” Biden said.
He also sent a message to Netanyahu via his last week interview with the CNN and said that the prime minister is risking the US-Israeli relationship should the overhaul pass without broad consensus. “The close relationship between these countries is based on shared values and the constitutional change being made in Israel today undermines these common values,” Biden noted last week.