Light Wave


Netanyahu Doubles Down on Controversial Judicial ‘Reform’ - Has Nothing To Do With My Corruption Case

By Belal Awad · July 27, 2023

In brief…

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu defends his judicial reform law, arguing it restores balance to his nation's democracy.
  • Calls criticisms that it's a threat to democracy "silly".
  • Denies claims the law is meant to shield Netanyahu from corruption charges.
  • Insists there's room to compromise with his opponents: "There is a middle out there."
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu - Wikimedia  

Passage of a new law that aims to limit the power of Israeli courts to overrule government actions has ignited a firestorm of controversy as mass protests continue roil Jewish state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the driving force behind the controversial reform, defended its as necessary, telling ABC News, “We have to bring back Israeli democracy in line with what is common to all democracies.” Netanyahu insisted the “essence of democracy” is being upheld, and that the reform is “just a minor correction.”

Netanyahu asserted the protests are an overreaction: “It’s described as the end of Israeli democracy. I think that’s silly. And when the dust settles, everybody will see it.” His remarks underscore his belief that the law aims to restore the balance between the branches of government and is not a threat to Israel’s democratic foundations, as protesters contend.

The longest-serving Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu defended the reforms by drawing a comparison with the US, saying, “Imagine that in the United States the Supreme Court could tell the executive, the President, ‘Okay, we are nullifying any one of your decisions just based on something that we we think is unreasonable.’ You would not accept it. We don’t accept it [in Israel], but we have to correct it.” His goal is preserving “the true essence of democracy… People don’t understand democracies… But the strength of democracy is that we voice these divisions. We protest, but ultimately we make important democratic decisions,” he said.

The law has deepened political divisions within Israel, even spilling into the military, with thousands of reservists threatening not to serve. International pressure has also been mounting with U.S. President Biden advising caution to Israel’s conservative government.

Netanyahu insisted he took everyone’s concerns seriously throughout the debate, adding, “I hope the opposition leaders show responsibility and come to the middle. There is a middle out there.”

Critics contend the reform is, in truth, meant to shield Netanyahu from ongoing corruption charges he faces. The Prime Minister brushed off the allegations as “ridiculous,” adding, “This has nothing to do with my trial… I have only one request for my trial that hasn’t been met so far - that we have live television coverage of the trial.” He insisted that the law’s purpose is to address long-standing problems within the Israeli democratic system, not to protect his personal case.