The first part of the judicial reform of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the highly contested “limitation of the reasonableness clause” should be approved on Monday in the second and third readings in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Today, Saturday 22 July, a huge march of demonstrators arrived in Jerusalem, leaving four days ago from Tel Aviv, after having traveled almost 60 kilometres. In the last stretch, according to the organizers, the procession swelled to gather between 20 and 30 thousand people.
The goal is to surround the Knesset, in an extreme attempt to block the reform. Yesterday, a thousand aviation reservists, including 500 pilots, announced that if the “clause” is approved, they will no longer volunteer. The protests against the reform were joined by a hundred former security officials, including former executives of the secret services (Mossad and Shin Bet). Among those who put pressure on Netanyahu to find a “compromise” formula at the last minute is the Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who said he was “very concerned about the ing of cohesion in the armed forces”. But ministers close to Netanyahu advise him not to give in to pressure from the streets and accuse the air force pilots who signed the petition “of having almost attempted a coup”.
The Great March of Jerusalem: Tens of thousands against justice reform
Tomorrow it will be up to government supporters to organize a showdown in Tel Aviv, in what they have defined “The Million Rally”. “We have the majority in Parliament – they say – and we do not accept being considered second-cl citizens”.
What does the contested reform foresee in recent months?
The reform would reduce the Supreme Court’s ability to challenge government decisions and is seen by protesters as a threat to Israeli democracy. The protests had begun at the beginning of the year, in March Netanyahu momentarily withdrew the proposal and said he wanted to build “a broader consensus”. Some of the most contested pages have been eliminated, such as the possibility for Parliament to annul the judgments of the Court and the power for parties to appoint judges. However, the removal of the so-called “reasonableness clause”, i.e. the possibility of the Supreme Court to intervene on the administrative provisions approved by the government and abolish them if considered “unreasonable”, remains.