An unprecedented popular mobilization in the 75-year history of the Jewish state – Controversial judicial reform and the right-wing coalition government
From new to new climax is headed political crisis who experiences it Israelin an unprecedented popular mobilization in the 75-year history of the Jewish state.
A controversial judicial reform promoted by the most right-wing governing coalition in the country’s history has sparked months of protests, strikes and backlash that have reached from the country’s embassies to the ranks of the Israeli military, an institution that has always stayed out of political domestic affairs.
Here’s one timeline of the political crisiswhile new developments are expected today.
December 29, 2022: The longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history, Benjamin Netanyahu is sworn in for a sixth term as prime minister, following elections in November, the fifth held since April 2019. After a short-lived stint in opposition, Netanyahu in order to form a government he makes major concessions to far-right and religious parties.
January 4, 2023: Minister of the newly formed government Yariv Levin announces a plan to reform the judiciary, aimed at increasing the power of parliamentarians over judges. “These reforms will strengthen the judicial system and restore public confidence in it,” states Levin. The bill includes a so-called “override clause” that allows the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to overturn Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority. The presentation of the plan takes place while Netanyahu is on trial for corruption. Opposition leader Yair Lapid complains that the reform “endangers” Israel’s legal system.
January 5: US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides says of the reform plan: “It’s not my place to tell Israel what to do. But I can certainly express my concerns and anguish.”
January 7: Thousands of Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv against the reform.
January 12: The president of Israel’s Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, declares that the bill will overwhelm the judicial system and undermine the Israeli Republic. S&P Global Ratings director Maxi Rubikov stresses that the judicial reform proposals could put pressure on Israel’s credit rating, even as the budget remains under control.
January 14: In the largest demonstration yet against the reform, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrate in several cities, with organizers saying the bill will undermine democratic governance. Netanyahu says the protests are a refusal by his leftist rivals to accept the results of the November election. On the 22nd of the same month, according to media reports, around 100,000 protesters gather in the center of Tel Aviv. Demonstrations spread to several other major cities, including Jerusalem and Haifa. The volume of protests is growing. They start and take place every weekend.
February 1: Economy Minister Nir Barkat stresses at a conference that the reform will not harm the economy or cause a brain drain (ie mass immigration of skilled professionals). But the stock market is falling and tech companies are reporting that investors are worried.
2 February: In a legal opinion to the Minister of Justice, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara states that the bill will damage the system of checks on democratic legitimacy and risks giving the government unelected powers.
February 5: Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose office is largely ceremonial, says: “Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, give dialogue a chance, because there is a huge majority of people who want dialogue ». Justice Minister Levin responds that he will not stop “not even for a second” the process of approving the reform.
February 13: Lawmakers exchange insults inside the Knesset over the plan, while protesters have gathered outside the parliament building. At the same time, the country’s president warns that Israel is on the brink of “constitutional collapse”.
February 19: American Ambassador Nides notes on an American radio station: “We say to the prime minister, as I say to my children, take a break, relax, slow down, try to achieve consensus, bring the parties together.”
February 21: The Knesset approves the first two key provisions of the reform in first reading. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk says the reform will “drastically undermine” the judiciary’s ability to uphold human rights and the rule of law. It calls for a “suspension of the proposed legislative changes”.
February 25: German Ambassador Steffen Seibert tells Israeli television that Berlin is monitoring the dispute and believes an independent judiciary is a cornerstone of democracy.
March 1: Clashes erupt between police and protesters in Tel Aviv.
March 5: The political crisis touches the army. Dozens of Israeli Air Force reservists say they will not attend a training day in protest. A growing number of reservists say they will not participate in military training because of the reform.
March 10: “Dictator: don’t turn back”! shout Israeli protesters at their prime minister, during his episodic departure from Ben Gurion International Airport bound for Rome, for a three-day official visit. Netanyahu is forced to take a helicopter to Tel Aviv International Airport.
March 11: Over 100,000 people demonstrate in Tel Aviv. Record turnouts in Haifa and Beersheba, with 50,000 and 10,000 protesters respectively.
March 14: The Knesset approves the derogation clause, the most controversial provision of the bill, on first reading.
March 15: President Herzog, who continues to warn of a risk of “civil war,” presents a compromise draft for changes to the Judiciary, stressing that “most Israelis want a plan that brings both justice and peace.” . The government rejects the idea. Bank of Israel Governor Amir Ya’aron urges the government to preserve the independence of the judiciary.
March 16: The crisis begins and acquires international interventions. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he is following the situation “with great concern”. On the 17th, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken states that reaching “consensus is the best way forward”. On the 19th it is the turn of US President Joe Biden to state that he supports “the efforts being made to reach a compromise on the proposed judicial reforms”, the White House says after his conversation with Netanyahu.
March 20: Netanyahu announces steps he says will water down the justice reform plan, but the opposition rejects the move and says it will take the key bill to the Supreme Court.
March 21: Senior officials in Israel’s finance ministry say the reform could seriously damage the economy, documents show.
March 23: Netanyahu says he wants to “end the division” but says he is determined to push through reform.
March 24: Justice considers his intervention “illegal”, given his ongoing trials. The attorney general accuses Netanyahu of breaking the law as she defies a conflict of interest related to his ongoing corruption trial and his direct involvement in the judicial reform plan.
Netanyahu faced boos and whistles from protesters opposing his plan during his visit to London.
March 25: Defense Minister Yoav Gallad, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, calls on the government to halt the reform, noting that the dispute poses a risk to national security.
March 26: Netanyahu fires Gallad. As a result, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in a new wave of protests across the country. In the middle of the night, clashes break out between protesters and the police. Washington, “deeply concerned” about the situation, is again asking for “compromise”.
(Today) March 27: Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious ruling coalition survives an opposition motion of censure in the Knesset, filed in protest over judicial reform. Herzog is calling on the government to “immediately halt” legislative work on the reform. The Histadrut, Israel’s largest trade union, is calling a “general strike” with immediate effect, demanding the bill be withdrawn. Flights from Ben Gurion are suspended. Two major ports of the country announce the suspension of their operations in the context of the general strike. Israeli embassies around the world are instructed to join the general strike. Netanyahu is postponing a planned announcement on the suspension of judicial reform amid disagreements in the ruling coalition, Israeli television reports. According to reports the prime minister is delaying as he struggles to prevent the collapse of his government due to backtracking on its plans.
With a wealth of experience honed over 4+ years in journalism, I bring a seasoned voice to the world of news. Currently, I work as a freelance writer and editor, always seeking new opportunities to tell compelling stories in the field of world news.