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Israeli lawmakers resume reviewing ‘judicial overhaul’ plan after 3-month pause

The file photo shows a view of the Israeli parliament (Knesset)

Israeli lawmakers have resumed debating a bill that would limit the powers of the regime’s Supreme Court, as part of rebooting a widely-bashed “judicial overhaul” plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right coalition cabinet.

The lawmakers at the Israeli parliament (Knesset) began discussing the so-called reform drive on Sunday, three months after Netanyahu froze the controversial legislative package due to widespread anti-regime street protests.

The proposed changes, which included curbs on the court's ability to rule against the cabinet, triggered massive rallies before the March suspension as the Israeli prime minister held compromise talks with opposition parties to settle their differences.

Netanyahu declared those talks fruitless last week and ordered some aspects of the legislation to be revived, with coalition lawmakers claiming that the new bill would be a far softer version of previous proposals that had sought to almost totally roll back the Supreme Court's power to rule against the executive.

The opposition, however, said the new bill would still open the door to corruption, stressing that Netanyahu was “renewing a legislation blitz meant to destroy the justice system's independence.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu on Twitter to stop the legislation and revive negotiations until an agreement is reached.

Netanyahu seeks to give the regime's extremist cabinet more influence in the process of selecting the Supreme Court's judges, while seeking to empower the politicians and the Knesset to override the court's rulings.

The introduction of the plan in January triggered unprecedented anti-Netanyahu protests that continue to this day, with critics describing the plan as a threat to the independence of the courts by the prime minister, who is on trial on graft charges.

The struggle over the plan illustrates the deep divide in Israeli society between supporters of the incumbent right-wing administration, who say the judicial changes are necessary, and the growing number of people opposed to Netanyahu’s plan, who argue that the moves will weaken the independence of the judiciary.

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