Israel delays controversial attack on judicial impartiality

Israel delays controversial attack on judicial impartiality

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed a delay to his far-right government’s proposals to overhaul the judiciary following 12 weeks of political crisis.

He announced yesterday that he would postpone his plans which critics have said would destroy the independence of the judiciary. Mr Netanyahu said he wanted to seek a compromise with his political opponents.

Speaking in a televised address, he said he was “not willing to tear the nation in half … When there’s a possibility of avoiding fraternal war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, will take a time out for that dialogue.”

“We have the ability to pass the legislation with a strong majority,” he added, before he praised the government’s supporters. “No one will silence you,” he said.

The International Bar Association (IBA) last week called on the Israeli government to abandon the planned reforms which it said would undermine the rule of law and “place Israel outside of the boundaries of modern democracies”.

Hundreds of thousands of people joined protests over the weekend in response to Mr Netanyahu’s sacking of defence minister Yoav Gallant over his public dissent.

The IBA intervention came weeks into escalating protests against the Israeli government’s proposals, which would allow the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to overrule the Supreme Court and establish a government majority on a key judicial appointments committee.

Israeli president Isaac Herzog is among a number of high-profile political figures who have called for the proposed law to be abandoned. The head of Histadrut, the main trade union federation in Israel, threatened a general strike if the reforms are not halted.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama, president of the International Bar Association, said: “Israel has been recognised as a substantial upholder of the rule of law with a senior judiciary which is much admired globally. These changes will wholly undermine that proud position.”

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