Explainer: Why Israel’s Government-Opposition Talks Are Collapsing

Israel's opposition leaders Benjamin Gantz (R) and Yair Lapid. (Photo: File)

For the 24th consecutive week, thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday against the government’s judicial reform plan.

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The latest round of protests came days after opposition leaders suspended their participation in negotiations on the controversial plan.

The plan, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government wants to implement, limits the Supreme Court’s power and gives Parliament major powers to choose judges.

Israel’s Protests Ignore Palestine’s Quest for Freedom and Justice

It is seen by the opposition as a threat to democracy and has alarmed a number of Israel’s allies, most notably the United States.

The Israeli government’s project also aims at increasing the power of elected officials over the judiciary.

Netanyahu’s critics see the plan as a threat to Israel’s ‘democratic character’, which could also help overturn a possible conviction for the prime minister, who is being prosecuted on corruption charges in several cases.

Some Background

Netanyahu announced in March the suspension of the reform plan to allow President Isaac Herzog to hold talks with the opposition, but opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz on Wednesday suspended their participation in the talks.

They justified their decision on the basis that a member of the ruling coalition did not receive enough votes to serve on the parliament’s selection committee for judges, which the opposition saw as a maneuver for not forming the committee.

Israeli Opposition Leader Lapid Slams Netanyahu’s Speech

Netanyahu’s government, made up of his Likud party and its far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies, says reform is necessary to rebalance powers between the judiciary and parliament.

The Palestinian View

Israel has been accused by international human rights groups, including Israel’s own rights group, B’Tselem of being an apartheid regime.

Palestinians argue that Israel cannot be a democracy for Jews only, as it excludes millions of Palestinian Arabs from having any political rights.

Israel is also home to millions of Palestinian Arabs, the native inhabitants of the land, who are victims of discrimination and marginalization.

(Palestine Chronicle, Aljazeera Net, Agencies)

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