Following the government’s approval of a law that weakens Israel’s Supreme Court, there have been significant reactions across the country. Thousands of doctors went on strike, labour leaders threatened a general strike, and senior justices rushed back to address the crisis. The law, part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive judicial overhaul, faced fierce resistance for seven months, including a rare warning from the United States. The bill was unanimously passed by the governing coalition, which includes ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious parties, prompting civil rights groups to petition the Supreme Court to overturn it.
The situation has raised concerns about further social and political unrest, with military reservists announcing their refusal to turn up for voluntary service and high-tech businesses considering relocating. Moreover, the judicial overhaul may strain ties with the Biden administration and impact alliances with Arab states while deepening conflicts with the Palestinians.
The implementation of the law coincided with Netanyahu’s release from the hospital, where he had a pacemaker implanted, adding more complexity to the already dramatic series of events. The Israeli Medical Association and the Histadrut, Israel’s largest labour union, also joined the protests.
Supporters of the judicial overhaul argue that it is necessary to curb the powers of unelected judges and strengthen elected officials. However, opponents fear that it will undermine Israeli democracy and give the prime minister excessive control over the executive and legislative branches of government. The Supreme Court plays a crucial oversight role in Israel’s political system.
The protests have illuminated Israel’s social and religious divisions, with demonstrators mainly coming from the secular middle class, while Netanyahu’s supporters tend to be more religious and live in settlements or rural areas. The crisis has become a constitutional challenge, as any move by the court to strike down the new law could result in an unprecedented collision with the government.
Overall, the situation has raised significant concerns about the future of Israeli democracy and the stability of the country. The judicial overhaul has sparked intense debates about the balance of power and the values underlying Israeli society.