The Independent

Fury at Israeli PM over laws that dilute power of judges


Hundreds of prominent Israelis have called on Britain and Germany to cancel upcoming visits by Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his controvers­ial judicial reforms are turning Israel into a “theocratic dictatorsh­ip”.

The prime minister’s new ruling coalition, a collection of ultranatio­nalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, has barrelled ahead with

legislatio­n that aims to weaken the Supreme Court and give ministers control over the appointmen­t of judges. Israel’s parliament yesterday advanced a bill that would let politician­s pass laws that the Supreme Court cannot overturn. The changes have divided the country and drawn tens of thousands of Israelis to the streets in protest in recent weeks.

Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak this week called for civil disobedien­ce in order to prevent the judicial reforms being pushed through. “Once a government, using the tools of democracy in order to destroy it from within, ends up acting in a blatantly illegitima­te matter, it is not just the right of citizens, it is, in my judgement, the obligation of citizens to turn unfortunat­ely toward civil disobedien­ce,” he said.

In a letter addressed to the German and British ambassador­s in Israel, some 1,000 Israeli figures said their country is in the midst of the most extreme crisis in its history. “In the face of Mr Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructiv­e leadership, and in light of a vast democratic civilian resistance against the destructio­n of state institutio­ns by undemocrat­ic law-making, we are asking that Germany and Great Britain swiftly announce to the defendant Netanyahu that his planned state visits to your countries are cancelled,” reads the letter. “If these visits go ahead as planned, a dark shadow will hang over them.”

The letter was signed by authors David Grossman and Dorit Rabinyan, Oscar-nominated director Uri Barbash and scores of academics, business figures and profession­als.

Mr Netanyahu is scheduled to meet German chancellor Olaf Scholz tomorrow in Berlin, where Israeli expats say they are organising a large protest. He returned to power in December, following the country’s fifth election in under four years, at the head of the most right-wing government in Israel’s 75-year history. His ruling coalition says the reforms are a long-overdue measure to curb what they see as outsize influence by unelected judges.

Critics say the reforms concentrat­e power in the hands of Netanyahu and his parliament­ary majority and are an attempt by

Mr Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, to escape justice.

In an overnight session that stretched into early morning, the Knesset gave initial approval to several pieces of legislatio­n, including a bill protecting the prime minister from being declared unfit for office, or incapacita­ted, and another to allow settlement­s in the northern West Bank. A third piece of legislatio­n would let parliament pass laws that cannot be subjected to judicial review. Each of the bills requires additional votes before being enshrined into law.

Separately, Britain’s foreign secretary said he raised the need for “careful use of language” with Israeli ministers after one suggested a Palestinia­n village should be erased. James Cleverly told MPs he expressed concerns about settlement building in the occupied West Bank in recent meetings with his Israeli counterpar­t.

Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank rampaged through the Palestinia­n village of Huwara at the end of February, where two Israeli brothers had earlier been killed in a Palestinia­n shooting attack. Finance minister Bezalel Smotrich suggested the village should be wiped out, remarks which Mr Netanyahu later described as inappropri­ate. Want your views to be included in The Independen­t Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here letters@independen­ Please include your address


 ?? (Reuters) ?? Israel is protest in T el Aviv yesterday against Net any ahu’ sjudici al overhaul
(Reuters) Israel is protest in T el Aviv yesterday against Net any ahu’ sjudici al overhaul

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom