Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked from his controversial judicial reform program after mass demonstrations against him escalated.
Netanyahu’s plans would have seen major changes in how Supreme Court justices were selected and Knesset oversight on Supreme Court decisions. To Israeli conservatives, the Supreme Court has morphed into an unelected oligarchy it was never intended to become. To liberals, Netanyahu’s plans would have destroyed Israeli democracy. Hundreds of thousands protested against him, and even military reservists boycotted call-up.
Where to now? Netanyahu hasn’t actually abandoned his goals. The Knesset was supposed to vote on the first legislation of the reform package this week. Now, Netanyahu will wait until after the Knesset’s recess in April. In the meantime, both Netanyahu and opposition leaders say they are willing to negotiate.
From a national responsibility, from the will to avoid a rift within the people, I decided to suspend the second and third reading from the law in this Knesset tenure in order to give time to get to a broad consensus to pass the legislation during the next Knesset. … When there’s an opportunity to avoid civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, am taking a timeout for dialogue. I am giving a real opportunity for a real dialogue. We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system and we are given an opportunity to achieve a broad consensus. This is a very worthy goal.
Absolute anarchy may have been avoided for now, but the underlying issues that caused the recent chaos are not gone. Netanyahu’s bloc is still committed to judicial reform. The opposition is committed to not letting that happen.
The Trumpet will continue its coverage on Israel’s ongoing political crisis. In the meantime, read “Bibi Is Back” for context on Israel’s current political problems.