Tuesday, July 25, 2023

What is the judicial reform and why is it controversial?


Proponents say the current "reasonability" standard gives judges excessive powers over decision-making by elected officials. But critics say that removing the standard, which is invoked only in rare cases, would allow the government to pass arbitrary decisions, make improper appointments or firings, and open the door to corruption.

Protesters say Netanyahu and his allies want to change the law so they can appoint cronies to government posts – and particularly so that they can fire the country's independent attorney general, according to Amir Fuchs, a senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank. Supporters see Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara as a bulwark against the overhaul. The measures "make it more difficult to conduct oversight" over arbitrary decisions of elected officials, said Yohanan Plesner, the institute's president. "This is one chapter of a broader plan and program of the government to weaken the checks and balances."

With a relatively weak system of checks and balances, the judiciary plays a large role in checking executive power in Israel. In the US for example, Congress has two houses that operate independently of the president and can limit his power. But in Israel, the prime minister and his majority coalition in parliament work in tandem.

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