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Netanyahu Rejects Blinken’s Criticism of Israel’s Judicial Plan

Netanyahu Rejects Blinken’s Criticism of Israel’s Judicial Plan

Sunday, 5 February, 2023 - 08:15
An aerial view shows Israelis during a demonstration against proposed judicial reforms by Israel's new right-wing government in Tel Aviv, Israel February 4, 2023. (Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out on Saturday at the “interference” of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who expressed concern over the judicial reform plans by his new far-right government.

During a meeting with members of his Likud party, Netanyahu deemed Blinken’s comments as "flagrant, clear, stupid and unnecessary interference,” reported Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily.

The gatherers had debated whether the PM should respond to Blinken’s remarks, ultimately deciding against it.

Blinken, who had visited Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories last week, had hinted at Washington's disappointment with the planned judicial overhaul in Israel.

He spoke of the “shared values” that have been the foundation of the US-Israel relationship.

“That includes our support for core democratic principles and institutions, including respect for human rights, the equal administration of justice for all, the equal rights of minority groups, the rule of law, free press, a robust civil society,” Blinken said.

The US official added that one of the “unique strengths” of the two countries' democracies is the “recognition that building consensus for new proposals is the most effective way to ensure they’re embraced and that they endure.”

Netanyahu’s coalition government is seeking to overhaul the judiciary, in what critics perceive as a threat to democracy.

The plan will significantly limit the Supreme Court’s ability to review laws and strike them down.

It also includes passing a law that would allow the governing coalition to override Supreme Court rulings by a simple majority of 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset.

The plan gave the government and the coalition in parliament absolute control over appointing judges, allowing ministers to install political appointees as legal advisers in their ministries.

In Tel Aviv, the plan led to unprecedented demonstrations against the government. The protests included Israeli officials, experts, economists, academics, the high-tech sector, and others.

The US was not the only critic of the judicial plan.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Netanyahu in Paris on Thursday. He warned him that Israel would be threatening its democracy if it goes ahead with the reform plan, Israeli and French media reported.

“If the reform were adopted as it stands, France would be forced to conclude that Israel has broken away from a common understanding of democracy,” Macron told the PM.

In wake of the massive external and internal pressure, Netanyahu’s government is expected to withdraw the plan and present compromise solutions.

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