Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is back in power
Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst has the latest on the prime minister’s sixth term on ‘Special Report.’
JERUSALEM, Israel — In what was considered to be one of the largest protest in Israel’s history more than 80,000 people demonstrated against judicial reforms put forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Jerusalem on Monday. Other protests where also held across the country.
The demonstrators, marched and gathered outside the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, held flags and chanted “democracy” and “no to dictatorship” as Netanyahu’s government formally launched a controversial plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.
According to the suggested plan, which was introduced mid-January, the ruling coalition will have control over the appointment of judges, including high court justices, and allow the Knesset to re-legislate laws the court annuls with a majority of a simple majority of 61 of the 120 Knesset members.
The government will also be able to appoint the president and vice president of the supreme court neither of whom needed to have previously served on the court and potentially not even served as a lower court judge. Justice Minister Yariv Levin has argued that the hight court has surpassed its authority in the last two decades and severely interfered with the ability of elected coalitions and ministers to enact government policies.
Some 80,000 Israelis gathered to protest against judicial reforms pushed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. (Maya Meshel)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU RETURNS TO POWER IN ISRAEL AS NEW GOVERNMENT IS SWORN IN
Addressing the tens of thousands of protesters, Eliad Shraga, founder and chairman of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, and one of the protest organizers, opened his speech with a quote from the Book of Isaiah: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isaiah was the prophet who foresaw the destruction of the Second Temple, and Shraga warned of the destruction of the third temple; the state of Israel.
He warned that, “Night and day, in the constitution, law and justice committee, he is moving the anti-democratic legislation forward, the laws that will transform Israel overnight from a liberal democracy into a fascist dictatorship.”
On Sunday, President Isaac Herzog appealed to Netanyahu and his coalition allies to suspend the legislation and open a dialogue with the opposition in a special televised address to the nation. Netanyahu has not responded to the appeal.
Herzog emphasized the importance of reaching a broad compromise and presented his 5 point plan for Israel’s balance of powers.
Israelis wave national flags during protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to overhaul the judicial system, outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. Thousands of Israelis protested outside the country’s parliament on Monday ahead of a preliminary vote on a bill that would give politicians greater power over appointing judges, part of a judicial overhaul proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
ARE PROGRESSIVES DEMONIZING INCOMING ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU’S RIGHT-WING COALITION?
“The reform is the creation of a camp that feels that the powers [of the branches of government] are unbalanced,” Herzog stated. “I feel – we all feel – that we are moments from a crash, perhaps even a violent one,” he said. “Both sides must understand that if only one side wins – no matter which side it is – we will all lose. The State of Israel will lose.”
Netanyahu released a short video following Monday’s mass demonstration where he called on the leaders of opposition to “Stop it. Stop deliberately deteriorating the country into anarchy. Take care of yourselves, and show responsibility and leadership. Most Israeli citizens do not want anarchy. They want a substantive discussion, and in the end, they want unity,” he said.
Despite Herzog’s plea the Knesset’s constitution, law, and justice Committee, headed by MK Simcha Rothman, approved the second bill that would prevent the Supreme Court from overruling legislation amending one of Israel’s semi-constitutional basic laws – effectively restricting the court’s power of judicial review on core issues.
The vote now sends the legislation to the entire parliament for a series of votes. The step caused chaos in the committee, as opposition members who objected to the move shouted at Rothman ‘shame’ and were removed from the meeting.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Feb.12, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, Pool)
NETANYAHU VICTORY IN ISRAELI ELECTION PRESENTS ‘STARK CHALLENGE’ FOR US MIDDLE EAST POLICY
Outside, the demonstrators kept pouring in. Parents were pushing baby carriages, older adults and others marched waving Israeli flags. Women’s organizations marched in red cloaks and white bonnets, declaring that “Israel will not become Gilead,” in a reference to The Handmaid’s Tale. This is “a warning against the transformation of the State of Israel from an egalitarian democracy into a theocracy that separates women and tramples on their rights” they said in a statement to Fox News digital.
Before joining the demonstrators outside the Knesset, the opposition leaders held a joint presser, calling on some of Netanyahu’s Likud to “stop the disaster.” Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “the entire opposition and many more Israeli citizens who voted for the coalition parties are united against the ‘targeted assassination’ that is being carried out against Israeli Democracy.”
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned that if the bill passed, it would tear Israeli society apart. “If this legislation passes, the democratic chapter in the life of the state will end,” which would end Israeli Democracy.”
Following the protest Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Rothman, who orchestrated and initiated the reform, called upon the opposition leaders to “start talking without preconditions. It’s time,” they said, addressing opposition head Yair Lapid and National Unity Party head Benny Gantz.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Protesters march against the Israeli government’s new judicial reforms in Jerusalem on Monday. (Maya Meshel)
Both Lapid and Gantz replied they were both willing to join the negotiations as long as they would halt the legislation process for the duration of the talks. Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli told Fox News Digital that “as long as there is a gun at the head of Israeli democracy, there can be no discussion of anything with Rothman and Levin. Anything else is surrender”.
David Amsalem, who serves as a minister in the justice ministry said during a debate in the Knesset that the demonstrators were “anarchists and thugs.” We will pass this legislation, and whoever will defy it, will face criminal charges”.
Yonat Friling is a Senior Filed producer with Fox News. You can follow her @FrilingYonat