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Israel’s parliament on Monday passed the first part of a judicial reform that would significantly curb the top court’s ability to review government decisions, despite ongoing mass protests against the planned overhaul, Axios reported.
The ruling conservative coalition’s lawmakers unanimously voted 64-0 to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to overturn government decisions that currently do not pass a “reasonableness” test.
The bill is part of a broader judicial overhaul by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition, who are seeking to rein in unelected judges from overruling democratically elected officials, according to NBC News.
But the reform has faced intense opposition from the Israeli public, prompting large anti-government demonstrations that have seen thousands of people march in the streets since the planned changes were announced earlier this year.
Demonstrators and opposition parties fear that the changes will harm Israel’s democratic foundations and boost the executive branch’s power.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people protested in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem and blocked roads to prevent lawmakers from reaching the compound.
Following the vote, Israel’s main workers’ union announced it was planning a general strike in the country, which may take a few days to implement. At the same time, a pro-democracy non-governmental organization filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the new law.
Opposition against the reforms has also emerged from Israel’s tech industry and military reservists, including fighter pilots and members of the intelligence service. On Sunday, thousands of military pilots, intelligence officials and soldiers threatened not to report for volunteer duty if the far-right government refused to back down on its plans to limit the Supreme Court’s powers, the Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest union is weighing whether to call another strike. In March, the union-led strike shut down much of the country before it was called off within hours when Netanyahu agreed to hold negotiations and delay the legislation.