Lawyers Protest Outside Tel Aviv Court Against Judicial Overhaul

On Thursday, hundreds of lawyers in Israel rallied outside a court in Tel Aviv for protesting against the controversial plans of the government aimed at overhauling the country’s judicial system.

It is very rare for attorneys to carry out a demonstration and it happened after proposals were outlined by the justice minister, which included allowing politicians to override the decisions of the Supreme Court.

‘Dangerous’ proposals

Lawyer Orna Sher was wearing her black robe at the protest and said that Justice Minister Yariv Levin had outlined ‘dangerous’ proposals that could actually be a threat to democracy.

Standing outside the district court in Tel Aviv, the 66 year old judge said that the reforms would add politics to the nomination of judges.

According to reports, there were around 400 demonstrators who attended the rally and some of them were waving the country’s flags.

The proposals that Levin has outlined include giving Knesset members more powers when it comes to appointing judges.

Under the current rules, the Justice Ministry supervises the process of selection of judges, who are picked by a panel of politicians, lawyers and magistrates.

An ‘override’ clause has also been proposed by Levin that would allow Knesset to use a simple majority for annulling a decision of the Supreme Court.

The reaction

According to analysts, this clause would be helpful for lawmakers in annulling any corruption charges that may be imposed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the Knesset decides that he is innocent and the Supreme Court rules against him.

On Thursday, a group of former attorney generals and state attorneys published an open letter in which they stated that Levin’s proposals had come as a shock.

The 11 senior jurists, a number of whom have served as judges of the Supreme Court, called on the government in the letter to retract the proposals or else they will end up severely damaging the rule of law and court system.

More criticism

Attorney Bruria Lekner in Tel Aviv stated that the new measures that had been proposed were not far from a regression or destruction.

Speaking to the crowd that had gathered outside the Tel Aviv court, she said that they needed to put a stop to it, while protestors were chanting that they would not let it happen and calling the measures shameful.

The new justice minister is part of the most right-wing government that Israel has ever seen under Benjamin Netanyahu and entered office in the previous month.

Last week, he announced his reform program and also asserted that the laws were decided by the elected government.

However, the proposals did not receive a warm welcome and had been criticized on Monday by Yair Lapid, the leader of the opposition.

Lapid called the measures a ‘radical regime change’ and said that the plans were clearly meant to eliminate democracy.

Even before the elections, there had been rumors about Netanyahu allies planning to introduce laws that would benefit him in the corruption cases that he is currently facing.

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