Skip to main content

Israel: Netanyahu drops key clause in judicial overhaul

Prime minister says he "threw out" element of reform that would allow parliament to override the Supreme Court by a slim majority vote
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem, 25 June 2023 (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dropped a central part of his government's judicial overhaul, but will still push ahead with the reforms, he said on Thursday. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu said that his government would no longer seek to grant the Knesset, Israel's parliament, the authority to overturn Supreme Court rulings.

"I threw that out," Netanyahu said of the clause to override the Supreme Court ruling by a slim majority vote in the parliament. "I already changed a few things right after the original proposal was put forward."

The proposal to give the government more power over judicial appointments would also be revised, the premier added.

"The way of choosing judges is not going to be the current structure, but it's not going to be the original structure," he said, without giving any further details.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


He said that he would still keep and push other elements of the overhaul.

Israelis have launched mass protests since January over the reforms, which they say would weaken the judiciary and turn the Supreme Court into a pseudo-political body that would bend laws in favour of the government.

Split in Israeli society

Netanyahu is leading Israel's most rightwing government in its history, including MPs from the Likud party, far-right religious Zionist factions, and ultra-Orthodox parties.

He launched the plan to revamp Israel's judicial system when he returned to power in December, accusing Israel's Supreme Court of being a non-elected body and of encroaching into political areas where it had no authority.

The reforms were paused in March amid deepening splits in Israeli society between government supporters and opposition campaigners.

Those opponents to the overhaul included army reservists, pilots, intelligence officers, and tech employees who feared the revamp would harm the economy and scare investment away from Israel.

The government has attempted to find a middle ground in negotiations with the opposition since March but has so far failed to produce a result.

Members of the government have threatened to resign and jeopardise the coalition if the policy is scrapped. 

Netanyahu is facing trial on corruption charges, which would see him removed from office if found guilty. He denies all wrongdoing. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.