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Israeli Supreme Court Invalidates Netanyahu’s Judicial Overhaul Law

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The Israeli  Supreme Court has dealt a significant blow to Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul project by overturning a law at its core. The contentious law, passed by the government in July, aimed to limit the court’s powers by eliminating the “reasonableness” clause, which allowed the unelected Supreme Court to override government decisions.

The court’s decision, reached by a narrow majority of eight to seven, emphasised concerns about the severe damage the law would inflict on Israel’s democracy. This ruling has the potential to trigger a political crisis amid the country’s conflict in Gaza and amid escalating regional tensions, reigniting the controversies that emerged over the summer and contributing to the fractures within the unity government following the October attacks by Hamas.

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The judicial overhaul project spearheaded by Benjamin Netanyahu triggered months of widespread protests, placing immense domestic and international pressure on his government. The controversial initiative, which sought to limit the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court, not only sparked mass demonstrations but also exacerbated existing divisions within the country, including religious, ethnic, and class divides. The protests had far-reaching consequences, causing turmoil within the military, damaging the shekel, Israel’s currency, and straining relations with international allies. Even the then-U.S. President, Joe Biden, expressed criticism of the plans.

The recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the key law at the center of the judicial overhaul project is a significant development. Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, representing 38 human rights organizations, hailed the decision as a rejection of “an attempt to infringe upon the human rights of every Israeli citizen and thwart judicial oversight of government decisions.

” Activists had argued that, in the absence of a robust constitution safeguarding human rights, the Supreme Court’s authority to challenge legislation was vital for preserving democratic governance and human rights.

This landmark ruling marks the first time Israel’s Supreme Court has overturned a quasi-constitutional “basic law.” While some government ministers had previously hinted at disregarding such a decision, the broader ruling asserted that the Supreme Court has the right to overturn basic laws, dealing a blow to any claims of its illegitimacy.

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Picture Credit: Business Today Israeli

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party responded to the decision by contending that it goes against the national desire “for unity” during wartime. Despite this reaction, the ruling underscores the judiciary’s role in upholding democratic principles and human rights, signaling a potential shift in the ongoing political landscape of Israel. Netanyahu, yet to respond to the decision, now faces a political landscape reshaped by this critical judicial ruling.

The Likud party expressed disappointment, deeming the Supreme Court’s timing unfortunate amid social disputes and a military campaign. Former Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, supporting the ruling, emphasized its increased urgency during the war, as it pertains to the core principles for which Israeli soldiers risk their lives.

Despite the challenging circumstances, she asserted the court’s duty to decide issues crucial to Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.

Activist group Kaplan Force, pivotal in protests against the legislation, celebrated the ruling as a victory for Israeli citizens and democracy. They called for respect of the ruling, urging national unity around the values of the declaration of independence during this critical period for the nation.

The establishment of the organized camp in Khan Younis represents a collaborative effort between the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Egyptian Red Crescent, aiming to provide shelter for Palestinians displaced by Israeli strikes in Gaza. Initially hosting 300 families from various PRCS teams, including medical, ambulance, and relief units, the camp’s capacity is designed to grow to accommodate up to 1,000 tents. This initiative seeks to address the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the conflict.

On the Israeli side, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has announced that some of the evacuated communities north of the Gaza Strip, following the October 7 attack by Hamas, may soon return as military operations progress. Gallant mentioned that certain evacuated communities within a range of 4-7km north of the territory would be able to resume normalcy in the near future. This development reflects the ongoing dynamics in the region amid efforts to stabilize affected areas.

In another significant development, Israel’s supreme court delivered a ruling against a key component of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s judicial overhaul. The court opposed an amendment passed by parliament in July, which aimed to eliminate the “reasonableness” clause.

This clause previously allowed the court to overturn government decisions deemed unconstitutional. The ruling signifies a pushback against attempts to curtail the powers of the judiciary, underlining the court’s role as a check on governmental actions that may infringe on constitutional principles.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, in collaboration with the Egyptian Red Crescent, has established the first organized camp in Khan Younis to provide shelter for Palestinians displaced by Israeli strikes in Gaza. Initially accommodating 300 families from PRCS medical, ambulance, and relief teams, the camp’s capacity is set to expand to host up to 1,000 tents, addressing the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the conflict.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that some evacuated Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, following the October 7 attack by Hamas, will soon be able to return as military operations progress. These communities, located within a range of 4-7km north of the territory, are expected to resume normalcy in the near future.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group reported that four of its fighters were killed in southern Lebanon. The toll was updated from three in an earlier statement, providing no further details. Security sources indicated that the first three fighters were killed in an Israeli raid on two houses in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila near the border, where Hezbollah maintains security control.

In response to the deadly attack on Israel by Hamas in October, the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford, deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to deter regional escalation, will return to the US “in the coming days,” as announced by the Navy. The USS Bataan, along with the USS Mesa Verde and the USS Carter Hall, will replace the aircraft carrier, underscoring ongoing strategic considerations and readiness in response to regional dynamics.

Source Link https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/01/israel-supreme-court-strikes-down-netanyahus-judicial-overhaul-law

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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