Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul

Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul

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The Israeli Supreme Court struck down a key piece of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul Monday, after divisions over the reform were largely put on hold while the country focused on war with Hamas.

The controversial judicial reforms were passed over the summer by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The measure would prevent judges from overturning government decisions on the basis that they are “unreasonable.”

The law meant the government could overrule Supreme Court decisions and give the executive branch more power to appoint justices, The Hill previously reported.

The legislation sparked controversy and protests across the country, as critics labeled it a threat to democratic values.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-7 to overturn the law because of the “severe and unprecedented harm to the core character of the State of Israel as a democratic country.” It voted 12-3 that it had the authority to overturn the “Basic Laws,” major pieces of legislation that serve Israel similarly to the Constitution for the United States, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents of the law argued that Netanyahu’s effort removes the standard of reasonability and opens the door to corruption and wrongful appointments of unqualified justices, the AP reported.

The overhaul was placed on hold when Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and kidnapped more than 200 hostages in an Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel and prompted the war that is nearing the three-month-mark.

Netanyahu has not commented on the decision but said in July that the claims that the overhaul will signal the end of democracy in Israel is “silly.”

Since the moves were announced early last year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protested in the streets against them. Military leaders have criticized the reforms and said their unpopularity could discourage citizens from serving in the military. Some said at the time that they would not serve if called upon because of the changes.

The U.S. had previously urged Netanyahu to put the plans on hold and seek a boarder consensus across the political spectrum. The Supreme Court issued its decision Monday because the outgoing president Esther Hayut is retiring and her last day was Monday, per the AP.

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