Israel's Supreme Court overturns key component of Netanyahu's polarising judicial reform

Prime Minister's plans sparked mass protests across the country

Israel's Supreme Court overturns key component of Netanyahu's judicial overhaul

Israel's Supreme Court overturns key component of Netanyahu's judicial overhaul
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Israel's Supreme Court ruled on Monday against a significant part of the government's polarising legal reform, which challenged the powers of the judiciary and sparked mass protests.

Eight of 15 justices on the country's top court ruled against an amendment passed by the parliament in July which scraps the “reasonableness” clause, used by the court to overturn government decisions which are deemed unconstitutional.

“This is due to the severe and unprecedented damage to the basic characteristics of the state of Israel as a democratic state,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had argued the sweeping judicial reform package presented a year ago was necessary to rebalance powers between judges and politicians.

But his detractors warn the multipronged package paved the way for authoritarian rule and could be used by Mr Netanyahu to quash possible convictions against him, an accusation the Prime Minister denies.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators had rallied weekly against the government reforms, with protests only ending due to the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war in October.

Israelis protest against judicial overhaul – in pictures

The “reasonableness” amendment, the only major part of the legal reform package to become law, was also one of its most contentious steps as it sought to curb judicial oversight of the government.

When Mr Netanyahu's allies voted to scrap the reasonableness clause in July, opposition politicians stormed out of the chamber, shouting “shame”.

The law has been cited in only a handful of court decisions, including a high-profile ruling last year which barred an ally of Mr Netanyahu from serving in the cabinet because of a previous tax evasion conviction.

Updated: January 02, 2024, 7:13 AM