Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government staged an insurgency in a key vote related to controversial judicial reform, a political setback for the longtime leader, highlighting divisions in his coalition and Sabotaged compromise talks with the opposition.
The Knesset is expected to elect two political representatives to the country’s nine-member judicial selection committee on Wednesday, one of the key issues in a six-month debate on the nature of Israel’s democracy in a vote widely seen as To the future of overhaul.
Typically, one political appointee is chosen by the government and another by the opposition, but several hardliners in Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition have demanded that both posts be filled by government representatives.
At the last minute, the prime minister decided to buy more time, ordering his nationalist-religious coalition to vote against all candidates – a move that will trigger fresh votes within the next 30 days.
But four government members used secret ballots to back the appointment of opposition candidate Karine Elharrar in a 58-56 vote, with second-place candidate Tally Gotliv of Netanyahu’s Likud party refusing to withdraw her candidacy, but no Get enough votes to cross the electoral threshold. The deadlock means parliament still has to fill a second post within a month.
Political chaos has left Netanyahu in a weak position. Leaders of Israel’s two main opposition parties, angered by the 11th-hour drills, said Wednesday night that they would suspend participation in negotiations for a judicial reform compromise brokered by the country’s puppet president, Isaac Herzog. So far, the talks have yielded few concrete results.
Dissent within the government has also raised questions about the prime minister’s control. Judicial reform remains a core goal of Netanyahu’s far-right partners and some members of the Likud party, but internal divisions are growing, fueled by mixed messages from the prime minister himself.
Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Yar Lapid said: “There is a representative [from the opposition] In the committee to select judges, but there is no committee to select judges … Netanyahu blocked its creation today. “
“The threat to democracy has not gone away,” he added.
The prime minister in turn accused the opposition of not taking compromise talks seriously. “Their representatives were elected, but they still sabotaged the negotiations,” he said in a video statement.
Netanyahu returned to office in late 2022 as the most right-wing head of government in Israel’s history, and his government quickly announced wide-ranging judicial legislation aimed at curbing the excessive power of the Supreme Court and its apparent left-wing bias. The measures could also help Netanyahu evade prosecution in a corruption trial in which he denies all charges.
Critics counter that the changes would remove democratic norms, give politicians too much power by allowing a simple majority in parliament to override nearly all court decisions, and politicize the judiciary by adding more lawmakers to judicial select committees.
The issue has sparked an unprecedented protest movement, hurting Israel’s economy and drawing criticism of the government from international allies such as the United States.
Wednesday night demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were canceled following the election of the opposition candidate, but weekly Saturday night protests across the country – now in their 24th week – are expected to continue.