Israel’s supreme court has annulled a contentious law introduced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government last year, which sought to restrict its judicial authority.
What Happened: The enacted judicial reform law of 2020 intended to limit the court’s power in nullifying government decisions deemed “unreasonable in the extreme,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. This law, akin to a constitutional amendment, was rejected by eight justices, while seven opposed the decision.
The court’s decision arrives amid Israel’s ongoing conflict in Gaza and the aftermath of a brutal attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Netanyahu, along with other political leaders, have indicated they won’t challenge the court’s ruling while Israel grapples with the war.
Analysts believe that this ruling could have far-reaching implications for Israel’s post-war domestic politics, potentially rekindling a divisive national debate and inciting a constitutional crisis.
The disputed law was part of a broader legislative package designed to curtail the court’s authority and increase lawmakers’ control. The objective, as Netanyahu argued, was to restore balance as liberal, activist judges overwhelmingly dominate the court. Critics, however, argued that the law would compromise the court’s role as a check on executive and legislative power, thereby undermining Israel’s liberal democracy.
The court ruled by a 12-3 majority that it reserves the right to overturn a basic law in “unusual and extreme cases” that contradict the core principles of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Why It Matters: This ruling comes at a critical juncture as Israel battles an ongoing conflict in Gaza. In response to the economic strain caused by nearly three months of sustained wartime mobilization, the Israeli military revealed its plans to initiate a partial withdrawal of several thousand troops from the Gaza Strip. Despite this move marking a shift in the conflict, the Israeli military continues to demonstrate its commitment to the fight, with the possibility of some soldiers being recalled for service in the future.
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