Shortly before 4 p.m. on Monday, July 24, 2023, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition voted to approve the so-called “reasonableness” law — the first part of its plan to politicize and radically constrain Israel’s hitherto independent judiciary — and thus set in motion a process that risks tearing apart the State of Israel.
The legislation was spearheaded by Likud Justice Minister Yariv Levin, and steered through its committee stages by far-right Religious Zionism Knesset member Simcha Rothman. Significantly it was Levin — the “real prime minister of Israel” in the words of many opposition MKs — who celebrated “the first step in a historic process to correct the judicial system,” and posed for selfies with fellow coalition MKs once the law had passed.
But it was Netanyahu — discharged just hours earlier from the hospital where he was fitted with a pacemaker after a potentially life-threatening “transient heart block” — who ensured its passage.
In March, the prime minister had temporarily suspended the enactment of a more central element of the overhaul package, under which the governing coalition would be able to choose almost all of Israel’s judges, amid huge nationwide protests and a warning from his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, that the legislation was causing dangerous rifts in the Israel Defense Forces, the people’s army. Since then, the protests have only escalated and the rifts in the military widened. [Continue reading…]