June 23, 2024
Halt Israel Legal Reform, Urges Defence Minister
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Halt Israel Legal Reform, Urges Defence Minister

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt controversial plans for an overhaul of the justice system.

 

His intervention came as Israelis opposed to the changes held mass rallies across the country for the twelfth week in a row.

 

Mr Gallant added his voice to warnings the crisis is causing social upheaval and could harm Israel’s security.

 

So far, however, Mr Netanyahu has defied calls to scrap the shake-up.

 

In a brief televised statement, Mr Gallant described the reform plan as a “clear, immediate and tangible danger to the security of the State”.

 

He said members of the Israeli Defence Forces were angry and disappointed, with an intensity he had never encountered before.

 

The law is part of the right-wing government’s contentious plan to limit the powers of the judiciary, which has led to months of protests.

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It includes enabling parliament to overrule decisions made by the Supreme Court – a move that critics say will undermine the independence of the judiciary and could be used for political ends.

 

But Mr Netanyahu says the reforms are designed to stop the courts overreaching their powers and that they were voted for by the public at the last election.

 

Mr Gallant’s remarks were welcomed by opposition leader Yair Lapid, who praised the minister’s “brave step”.

 

But far-right police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir urged Mr Netanyahu to sack the defence minister, saying he had caved in to opposition pressure.

 

Separately, a new Incapacitation Law, which passed by 61 votes to 47 in the 120-seat Knesset on Thursday following a heated all-night debate, prevents a prime minister from being declared unfit to hold office by the attorney general.

 

It stipulates that only the prime minister or three-quarters of their cabinet can declare them unfit to hold office on physical or psychological grounds.

 

Mr Netanyahu is standing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. He denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a “witch hunt”.

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