Strikes and protests over Israeli justice reform

Theo McDonald

Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in protest after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed his defence minister on Sunday for raising objections to proposed judicial reforms. 

Heralded as “days of disruption”, highways and bridges have been blocked by protestors including Tel Aviv Airport. 

Tel Aviv’s main highway could be seen burning casting a smoke over Israel’s prominent skyscrapers and political stability. 

In a shock move while he was travelling to the U.K. the embattled prime minister dismissed Yoav Gallant after he raised objections to proposed judicial reforms following reported low morale in the Israeli army. Army reservists have threatened a go-slow strike in opposition to the proposals. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog – whose Irish-born father Chaim Herzog served as the sixth president of the Jewish state – joined Gallant in calling for the reforms to be shelved stating, “For the sake of the unity of Israelis, for the sake of committed responsibility I call on you [Netanyahu]to halt the legislative procedure immediately.”

Labour unions and universities have also joined in on the civil disobedience. In a statement, the group of universities participating stated their intention to “stop studies in all of Israel’s research universities… amid the continuation of the legislative process that undermines the foundations of Israeli democracy and endangers its continued existence.” 

Having won a decisive victory after the fifth election since 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has pressed ahead with reforms to the judiciary that seeks to enable politicians greater say over court decisions and the appointment of judges. 

Among the reforms includes allowing 61 representatives of the 120 member Knesset – parliament – the power to strike down Supreme Court decisions. With no written constitution Israel’s Supreme Court plays a decisive role as preserver of check-and-balances. 

While the reforms have been temporarily suspended Netanyahu has vowed to press through with them “in one form or another.” 

Theo McDonald

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