Symbels Resumes

'Huge uncertainty' for investors and economy as Israel's government pushes for controversial reforms

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich hold a news conference to present their plan for dealing with price increases in Israel’s economy at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, January 11, 2023.

Ronen Zvulun | Reuters

Israel’s shekel is down nearly 6% in February and at its lowest against the dollar in three years, as political turmoil surges over controversial judicial reforms pushed by the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

An estimated 160,000 protesters took to the streets of the capital Tel Aviv over the weekend, with tens of thousands more gathering in other cities, demonstrating against the governing coalition’s planned legal overhaul, which would significantly weaken Israel’s judiciary.

Signs carried by crowds of protesters read “No Constitution, No Democracy” and “They Shall Not Pass.” Members of Israel’s business, academic, legal and even military communities have warned against the changes.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called the plans “an assassination of the Declaration of Independence, which will turn Israel into a dictatorship,” and described the current situation as “the worst crisis since the formation of the state.”

Thousands of Israeli protesters rally against Israeli Goverment’s judicial overhaul bills in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 25, 2023. Protesters confronted with police and blocked Ayalon highway.

Gili Yaari | Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Prime Minister Netanyahu has labeled the protests — which are now approaching their third month — an attempt “to create anarchy” and trigger another election. Israel, deeply divided, has had five snap elections since April 2019.

What are the proposed changes?

In short, the proposed judiciary overhaul will severely limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to review and strike down laws that it deems unconstitutional. The Knesset — Israel’s parliament — voted last week to advance a major part of the reforms.

They essentially have four main clauses:

Netanyahu and his justice minister Yariv Levin say that the changes are needed to prevent the Supreme Court — which is unelected — from overly intervening in the cabinet and Knesset decision-making.

“The claim that this reform is the end of democracy is baseless,” Netanyahu said in response to the torrent of criticism. The prime minister himself is currently under investigation on numerous counts of corruption and other charges, meaning he would likely benefit from a weaker judiciary.

He claimed that “the balance between the branches in the governmental system has been violated over the last two decades, and even more so in recent years,” and that the reforms would “restore the correct balance between the branches.”

But huge swathes of Israeli civil society, along with current and former lawmakers, strongly disagree.

Israel's proposed judicial overhaul would be a 'complete revolution': Former central bank official

Economic impacts


Post a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Daily Updates