Netanyahu launches offensive against judiciary with bill that weakens Israel’s Supreme Court

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The government of Binyamin Netanyahu announced this Wednesday (4) a controversial plan that weakens the Supreme Court of Israel and, according to opponents, calls into question the independence of the Judiciary in the country. The project was presented six days after the prime minister took office with a team of ministers more to the right than ever.

The plan calls for the creation of a committee to review court appointments and gives parliament the power to overrule decisions. When announcing the proposal, the Israeli Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, criticized the court and stated that the reform aims to restore the population’s confidence in the Judiciary.

“People we don’t vote for decide for us. That’s not democracy,” Levin said as he announced the project on television.

Jurists and parliamentarians criticized the plan. Former prime minister Yair Lapid, now leader of the opposition, said he would fight against the measure and that, if the reform is implemented, his Yesh Atid (Há Futuro) party will cancel it when he “returns to power”.

Last week, Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister with an alliance that includes ultranationalist parties and far-right members. During the campaign, Bibi, as he is known, promised to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which is expected to further increase tension with the Palestinians.

This Tuesday (3), the new government was the target of criticism by foreign diplomats after the newly appointed Minister of National Security of Israel, Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem. The episode triggered a wave of contrary statements —including from Brazil— to what was seen as a provocation against the Palestinians.

Ben-Gvir, who is also a lawyer and specializes in defending radical Jewish activists, said the “complex is open to everyone.” According to Israeli authorities, the visit follows an agreement that provides that non-Muslims can visit the mosque, as long as they do not pray there.

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