Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today stated in an interview with Bloomberg that he will be backing down on most of his planned judicial reforms that have sparked consistent protests since January, the largest ever anti-government movement in the nations’ history. He stated he will now only be moving forward with one reform, seeking to alter the makeup of the judge-selection committee for the supreme court, in order to give the government more say in picking judges.
He stated his next move “would probably be about the composition of the committee that elects judges”, further adding “That’s basically what’s left – because other things I think we should not legislate”.
He said the point of the reforms was to try and find a middle ground between an over powered court, or an over powered legislature.
“There has to be a balance. That’s what we’re trying to restore”.
Opponents to Netanyahu’s reforms have called the move a step towards an erasure of Israel’s democracy, meanwhile supporters call it an effort to curb absurd intervention in the government from Israel’s supreme court, which has typically been more liberal than the present government.
A Solution to Protests..?
While the announcement is certainly a massive concession to protestors, many are in full opposition to any reforms period, and many continue to protest the reform that already passed. While the move may ease tensions in what is now a very polarized society, significant damage has already been done which will be difficult to rectify.
The reform that had already passed, on July 24th, tackled the “Reasonableness Standard”, which gave the Supreme Court power to overrule government actions it determined to be unnecessary.
The Economic Aspect
Part of the reasoning behind Netanyahu’s concessions appears to be the economic impacts that the protests have been having. While Israel is no stranger to internal strife, it seldom has meaningful effects upon Israel’s economy. The Israeli Shekel has been distinctly low performing, and investors are being shied away as local assets become compromised.
Netanyahu acknowledged the economic impacts, saying “There’s noise in the short-term markets”. He wishes, however, to reassure investors, stating “There’s clarity in the long-term markets”.
Israel is likely to see continued protest as Netanyahu seeks to pass another reform, prompting further instability in the nation. Thousands of Israeli reservists have publicly stated their refusal for volunteer duty, a problem which some within Israel fear could result in the nation being unprepared in the event of armed conflict.