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Israeli Judicial Reform bill leads to further mass protests

Israel Judicial Reforms protests.February 14, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)

A law passed by Israel's parliament on Monday that would overhaul the judiciary and limit its powers has sent Israel into unchartered territory amid mass protests from the opposition.

The regime's legislature approved the first bill of the plan in a tumultuous session on Monday, which resulted in the opposition legislators walking out in protest and shouting "shame".

The new legislation, known as the reasonableness bill, removes the ability of the Supreme Court to strike down the far right cabinets decisions deemed unreasonable.

The far right cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asserts that the judges have gotten too strong and need to be reined in.

In contrast, the opposition believes that the cabinet is aiming to weaken the judiciary and prevent it from being able to maintain checks and balances on the cabinet.

The opposition has also accused Netanyahu, who is currently on trial charged with several counts of corruption, of trying to use this scheme to quash possible judgments against him.

Israel is facing public unrest, labor strikes, and, mutiny by some members of the military. Growing numbers of military reservists have warned they will no longer report for duty, If the far right cabinet of Netanyahu continues with its plan.

Israeli doctors also began a 24 hours strike. The Israel Medical Association Chairman, Zion Hagai, has declared that physicians angered by the legislation were looking to move abroad.

Netanyahu has threatened disciplinary action against any who join in the strikes.

Local media reported the ruling cabinet was seeking an injunction compelling doctors to return to work.

A labor court eventually ordered the striking medical providers to go back to work but many appointments for the day had already been canceled.

Monday's bill was passed as part of a broader plan to overhaul the judiciary.

Additional plans for reform include major changes to the basic laws in an attempt to reshape the balance of power between the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, and the High Court of Justice, splitting the Attorney General's role and limiting the ability to petition against ruling cabinet actions.

A survey carried out on Tuesday, in the wake of the ruling cabinet passing the first law in its divisive judicial overhaul package has found that nearly 1/3 of Israelis are considering moving abroad.

The channel 13 poll found that 20% of respondents were considering a move abroad, 64% were not, and, 8% were unsure.

The survey reflected the impact of the coalition passing the law on Monday despite sustained mass protests, vehement opposition from top judicial, security, economic, and, public figures with thousands of Israeli military reservists vowing not to serve when called up to do so.

Over half of the respondents to the poll, 54%, said they feared the judicial overhaul was harming the security of Israel and 56% were worried about the possible outbreak of a civil war.

This and another survey also predicted that Netanyahu's far right ruling coalition would lose its majority in the Knesset If elections were held today.

Surveys reveal that if an election were to be held at present the number of seats held by Netanyahu's governing coalition in the 120 seat Knesset would fall from 64 to 52 or 53.

The latest surveys reflect a deep crisis within Israel.

Israelis have been holding rallies with thousands in attendance on a weekly basis throughout the occupied territories since Netanyahu announced his intention to have the Knesset pass the so called overhaul plan.

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