Updated Jul 24, 2023, 8:54am EDT
Middle East

Israel passes controversial judicial overhaul plan during massive protests

Protesters take part in a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist coalition government's judicial overhaul by the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

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The News

Israel has passed a part of the controversial judicial reform bill which will overhaul the country’s Supreme Court. Israelis have protested against the bill for days, and as of Monday had moved demonstrations to the front steps of the Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has long pushed for this legislation, which will strip the top court of the power to challenge government decisions. We’ve collected insights and analysis about the vote.

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  • Critics fear that without judicial oversight, Netanyahu’s government could pass laws targeting Palestinian people, LGBTQ+ people, women, and secular groups. Some members of the government have bragged about their plans. “Once the Supreme Court is out of the way, nothing will remain to stop them,” notes Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli historian and philosopher. “We are standing in the streets, because we cannot do otherwise if we are to save Israeli democracy,” Harari writes. — Financial Times
  • It might be time to cut off annual U.S. aid to Israel, columnist Nicholas Kristof argues. Each year, the country receives $3.8 billion in assistance, 10 times what is allocated to Niger. That money — which typically goes to military assistance — could be better allocated elsewhere, Kristof writes, especially considering the strength of Israel’s economy. “We’d all benefit by finding the maturity to discuss the unmentionable,” he concludes. — The New York Times
  • There is a divide in how the average American views Israel compared to the policies enacted by the U.S. government. Recent polling found that a growing number of people in the U.S. sympathize with Palestinians, and many don’t view Israel as the “vibrant democracy” U.S. officials describe it to be. Noura Erakat, an associate professor at Rutgers University, said despite their slowness in adapting to the views of Americans, lawmakers “would have to have their heads buried in the sand not to see a world changing around them.” — Time
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Know More

Some businesses have organized a general strike against the government Monday, with gas stations and some shops closing their doors in protest of the government’s moves.

Meanwhile, hundreds of military reservists have said they will refuse to report for service if the law passes.

Netanyahu was admitted to the hospital over the weekend following an emergency heart procedure, but has since been released.