Likud’s Regev promises overhaul push will resume after Knesset returns from break

Transport Minister Miri Regev promised on Sunday that the coalition’s controversial judicial reform legislation would be scrapped when the Knesset begins its summer session.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halted the reform process to make room for talks on hours of compromise before the key judicial appointments bill was set to become law last Monday, after months of mass protests across the country.

“As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, the amendment has only been put on hold and there is a very clear date for the next session. Right after Independence Day we will continue with the legislation,” Regev told a Likud-backed newsletter.

She added that “Netanyahu paused [the legislation] to allow dialogue, but if there is no such thing, we will bring it up for approval anew.”

Opposition and coalition figures are currently in talks with President Isaac Herzog with the aim of reaching a compromise over the government’s highly controversial plans to overhaul the judicial system. Some opposition figures have accused the government of being lax in its efforts to reach a negotiated agreement after Netanyahu called a halt last week.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin said on Wednesday that he will resume efforts to pass the hard-right coalition’s judicial reform after the Passover break, prompting claims that the talks were being used as a fig leaf.

Police deploy water cannons to clear anti-judicial reform protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway, in Tel Aviv, on April 1, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Regev said in her interview that she believed the judicial appointments bill should have been pushed through, but “in the reality that emerged, Netanyahu made a leadership decision to preserve the unity of the nation.”

Regev also criticized what she claimed was “the police’s preferential treatment of anarchists from the left,” referring to anti-reform protesters.

There have been protests against the plans for the past 13 weeks, regularly blocking Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway. Police used water cannons and police equipment to clear demonstrators, and for the first time on Saturday they used a sound gun – a loudspeaker that emits a distressing high-frequency sound.

Also in Tel Aviv, a plainclothes policeman beat a young woman with a whip on Saturday, the footage showed.

“Road blocking and incitement needed to be stopped and those thugs dealt with severely, as with other protesters who break the law. The favorable treatment they received proves the need for legal reform,” said Regev.

In its original form, the judicial reform legislation aims to weaken the court’s ability to serve as a check on parliament, as well as give the government control over the appointment of judges.

Critics say the plans will politicize the court, remove key checks on government power and seriously damage Israel’s democratic character. Proponents of the measures say they will stay with judges who they argue are overstepping their bounds.

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