- BBC News World
Israel is in chaos.
After weeks of historic protests, union leaders call for a general strike against the controversial judicial reform proposal of the coalition government led by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahuwhich critics see as an undermining of democracy and justice.
This Sunday night was one of the most intense days, after hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest against the resignation of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had spoken out against the reform.
isaac herzogpresident with mainly formal duties, asks Netanyahu to stop the legislation to calm the situation.
The White House in the United States also issued a statement urging the parties to seek consensus as soon as possible.
Experts say Netanyahu is at a “crossroads”. On the one hand they press the streetand the opposition. For another extreme right factions of his coalition asking him “not to give in to anarchy”.
The solution seems difficult. They are 3 keys explain the crisis.
1. Controversial judicial reform
Judiciary reform is the “cornerstone of the new nationalist-religious coalition of Israel led by Netanyahu” that was formed in December, as reported by Yolanda Knell, the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent.
“The goal of the reforms is to give the government decisive influence over the choice of judges and limit the Supreme Court’s ability to rule against the Executive or overturn legislation,” he added.
Under the proposals, politicians would play a dominant role in the selection of judges and would allow the Knessetthe parliament of Israel, overturn the decisions of the Supreme Court simple majority and remove some laws from judicial review.
Netanyahu argues that reform is designed to limit courts from exceeding their powers and which was voted for by the general public in the last elections.
Critics say this jeopardizes the political system of checks and balances, as Israel has no constitution and only one parliamentary house controlled by the ruling coalition.
The reform was the trigger for the most massive protests in Israel’s history since the beginning of this year. In a country of 10 million inhabitantsHundreds of thousands took to the streets on the busiest days.
Netanyahu’s political rivals sparked the protests, although strong opposition to the reform has manifested itself on several political fronts.
an increasing number of reservists, the basis of the Israeli armed forces, he showed his displeasure by refusing to report for military service.
Israel is located in one of the most volatile regions in the world and the pulse of the military is worrying because it directly threatens the country’s security.
2. Netanyahu’s crossroads
Benjamin Netanyahu, who has dominated Israeli politics for the past 20 years, is at the center of this controversy.
despite that faces trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trustwhich he denies, he was re-elected in November 2022 after 18 months in opposition.
This is his sixth term as prime minister and he now has a majority in the Knesset (parliament), leading a coalition government of far-right and religious parties.
The position of his government partners and the fury in the streets now put Netanyahu at a difficult crossroads.
“Obviously now it’s a matter of political survival“, says Professor Yuval Shany, researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, to the BBC.
Shany explains that the real problem for the prime minister is that “you will be doomed if you stop the reform, but also if you go ahead“.
The pressure on Netanyahu is such that “he really has no political choice but to stop or at least pause the legislation”.
The expert adds that this could cause “some far-right factions to leave the coalition and the Minister of Justice to resign”.
3. Political instability and social divisions
The allegations against Netanyahu have caused a divide over his ability to lead the country.
Since 2019, Israel has held five elections where politicians from different spectrums have failed to form stable governments.
In November 2022, a bloc of extremist religious parties led by Netanyahu’s Likud party won a clear majority in elections. AND the most religious and hard-line government in the country’s history.
That election, according to Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer, exposed a clear trend.
“The internal identity or culture war in Israel between what some see as the more liberal and open side of Israeli society against the more religious and extreme section of Israel and Jewish society,” he said.
Within the political agenda of this coalition are controversial debates such as the promise to annex the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s associates reject the two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestiniansthe international formula that proposes an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside Israel, sharing Jerusalem as its capital.
There was also concern about the strict stances of some ministers on the application of Jewish law and respect for LGBT rights.
Recalls that you can receive notifications from BBC News World. Download our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.