The Hamilton Spectator
Netanyahu advances changes despite uproar
Israel’s government on Monday pressed ahead with a contentious plan to overhaul the country’s legal system, despite an unprecedented uproar that has included mass protests, warnings from military and business leaders and calls for restraint by the United States.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the parliament for a second straight week to rally against the plan as lawmakers prepared to hold an initial vote.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies, a collection of ultra-religious and ultranationalist lawmakers, say the plan is meant to fix a system that has given the courts and government legal advisers too much say in how legislation is crafted and decisions are made. Critics say it will upend the country’s system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of the prime minister. They also say that Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, has a conflict of interest.
Simcha Rothman, a far-right lawmaker leading the legislative initiative, presented the proposal to the Knesset during a stormy debate. Several opposition lawmakers were escorted out of the hall by security for screaming at him, while a spectator was carried away by guards from the viewing gallery after smashing the protective glass in anger. The standoff has plunged Israel into one of its greatest domestic crises, sharpening a divide between Israelis over the character of their state and the values they believe should guide it.
“We are fighting for our children’s future, for our country’s future. We don’t intend to give up,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said.