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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Change of government: Israel’s justice minister wants to implement controversial reform

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Benjamin Netanyahu is back in power with the support of the extreme right. A government draft law is now threatening the position of Israel’s highest court.

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Israel’s new government wants to quickly implement steps to weaken the Supreme Court. Justice Minister Jariv Levin from the right-wing conservative ruling party Likud has already presented the first phase of the planned judicial reform, as reported by Israeli radio on Thursday.

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The so-called overcoming clause is particularly controversial. A majority of 61 of the 120 members of parliament can thus pass a law even if the Supreme Court considers it to be in violation of the Basic Law. Levin also wants to change the composition of the panel that appoints judges, he said on Wednesday evening. Two public representatives, appointed by the Minister of Justice, are to replace two representatives of the Bar Association.

Levin accused the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions. The reform he is aiming for will strengthen democracy and the separation of powers.

Former Prime Minister Jair Lapid, on the other hand, sharply criticized the planned reform. He accused the new government of wanting to smash the democratic structures in Israel. “Like a mafia clan (…) the new government put a loaded revolver on the table.”

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, on Thursday began deliberations on the appointment of the leader of the strictly religious Shas party, Arie Deri, as interior minister. Civil rights activists had lodged a complaint against Deri’s appointment because of his criminal past. Deri has been convicted several times, most recently a year ago for tax evasion. Nevertheless, he was appointed interior and health minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing religious government. He is later to become Minister of Finance under a rotation agreement. Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara rejects the appointment as “absolutely inappropriate”.

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Source: Stern

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