Netanyahu abandons opposition, millions of voters demand judicial overhaul

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night boycotted an 80,000-strong rally against the government’s controversial plans to overhaul the judiciary.

Changes in the pipeline include weakening the Supreme Court so that it cannot strike down laws and policies deemed unconstitutional, and giving the government control over the panel that selects judges.

Along with other proposed laws, critics say the overhaul will undermine its democratic character by undermining its system of checks and balances, giving too much power to the executive and leaving minorities in a vulnerable position.

“Two months ago there was a big demonstration, the mother of all demonstrations. Millions of people took to the streets to vote in the election. One of the main topics they voted on was reforming the judicial system,” Netanyahu said of the Nov. 1 vote, according to a statement from his office.

“Everyone at our election rallies, in the city centers and in the suburbs, heard the voices coming from the crowd,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, though he did not give a specific example.

“Lakhs of people took to the streets to vote in the elections. “One of the main topics they voted on was reforming the judicial system,” Netanyahu told the ministers.

Israelis protest against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on January 14, 2023. (Jacques Gus/AFP)

Netanyahu urged against “getting carried away by inflammatory slogans about civil war and the destruction of the state.”

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He added, “When we were in the opposition, we did not call for civil war, we did not talk about the destruction of the state, even when the government took decisions that we strongly opposed. I expect the opposition leaders to do the same,” he said.

He predicted the changes would “restore public confidence in the justice system”.

Rhetoric about the reforms and the pushback against them heated up last week when opposition lawmaker Benny Gantz accused Netanyahu of “driving toward civil war.” Our home.”

This prompted a lawmaker from the coalition’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party to call for the arrest of Gantz and Lapid for “treason”.

On Sunday, Likud MK Tali Gotliv said he had asked Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is spearheading a judicial shakeup, to remove Supreme Court President Esther Huyt from her post.

Gottlieb pointed to a speech by Hyde last week in which he railed against the planned moves, accusing him of scaring the public with falsehoods of justice “while expressing a political opinion on a controversial issue.”

Meanwhile President Isaac Herzog He called the politicians “To lower the temperature” in their discourse on restructuring. Herzog said Sunday that he is working to mediate between the two sides regarding the upcoming legislation.

A group of organizers of Saturday’s protest said they plan to hold a new rally on Sunday January 21 to include the IDF headquarters near the government compound on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv – instead of Habima Square – to allow more people. Attend a slightly less residential area.

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“The journey to stop this conspiracy has only just begun,” organizers said in a statement. “This is a determined and uncompromising fight to save democracy, and the people of Israel are coming out in droves to protest.”

However, in a separate statement, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the main protest organizers, said it planned to hold a rally in Habima Square on Saturday night.

“We will continue to unite to lead and organize this struggle for the character and identity of the State of Israel as a democratic and liberal nation,” said Eliot Shraga, head of the Movement for Quality Government. “We will fight in the streets, squares and bridges – in the courts and the Knesset.”

Transfer of power

The Cabinet on Sunday also approved the formation of a Ministry of Public Diplomacy headed by Newly Appointed Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan. Cabinet also approved the appointment of May Golan as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. Both moves still need Knesset approval.

Foreign Minister Khalid Tistel Adbaryan arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on January 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ministers also approved members of the Legislative Council of Ministers headed by Levin.

Other members of the forum are National Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, Education Minister Yoav Kish, Minister within the Education Ministry Haim Bitten, Welfare Minister Yoav Ben-Zur, Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknapp, Environmental Protection Minister Itid Zilman, Communications Minister Shlomo Garhi, and Diaspora Affairs and Social Affairs. Equality Minister Amichai Sigley with Tistel Adbaryan.

Also, “transfer of functional areas and powers from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Equality to the Prime Minister’s Office was approved as per alliance agreements,” the PMO statement said.

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According to Channel 12 News, the decision refers to the transfer of outdoor programs for school students from the Ministry of Education to the Prime Minister’s Office, where Deputy Minister Avi Maas, head of the far-right anti-LGBTQ Nome party, will oversee. .

Mao’s appointment as supervisor of an important part of the students’ curriculum has raised criticism and concern. Abundant Local municipalities say they will not allow anti-LGBTQ or illiberal content to be introduced in their schools.

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