Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Justice Minister Yariv Levin while Transport Minister Miri Regev looks on, July 24, 2023.

It appears that after Justice Minister Yariv Levin got his win on Monday, he liked the taste, and while thousands of anarchists were clashing in the streets with police, he said behind closed doors that “Immediately after the break, we will promote the change in the composition of the committee to appoint judges,” Reshet Bet radio reported Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation Monday around 8 PM that he was eager for a compromise with the opposition, and to that end, he would suspend judicial reform legislation through late November. But it’s also true that his olive branch was returned all broken and tattered in minutes by opposition leader Yair Lapid, who announced:

“Netanyahu’s offer to return to the talks is empty of content. As everyone who was involved in the attempts to reach broad agreements found out, Benjamin Netanyahu is not really the Prime Minister of Israel. He is a captive of Levin and Rothman and Ben Gvir. They decide, he does what they say. The opposition will not participate in talks that are an empty show.”

To tell you the truth, like many right-wingers who have suffered for years from Netanyahu’s zigzagging, retreating, and plain reneging on promises, I wouldn’t be so unhappy if Levin, Smotrich, and Ben Gvir were on hand to help the PM steer the ship of state in the right direction. So, sure, walk away, Mr. Lapid, and watch the coalition handing you your next defeat.

As I said above, the anarchist crowds took to the streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and other locations after the law restricting the reasonability clause passed with a 64-0 majority (the opposition left the plenum in protest). The epicenter of the protests was in Tel Aviv, where Ayalon Highway was closed for about three hours, and the police had a hard time removing the protesters without breaking bones and cracking skulls. Eighteen protesters were arrested in Tel Aviv and ten police officers were injured.

In Jerusalem, finally, the police used stink water cannons with amazing results: the blocked road was cleared in minutes. It shows you how brittle these anarchists are compared to the Haredim, who stay in place, stink water and all.

So, is Yariv Levin prepared to go to war on changing the committee to appoint judges after the high holidays? The bill has been on the Knesset’s table since the end of the winter session. It doubles down on the novel idea (for Israel) that elected officials should appoint judges in a democracy. The entire civilized world does it this way, and in the US, too, it’s winner-take-all: the majority party in the Senate gets to appoint the judges. But Israelis mistrust their elected officials, whom they refer to as “politicians,” as if it’s a putdown. It’s safe to say that after 75 years, Israelis don’t trust anybody. This reinforces my belief that Israelis need a psychiatrist more than they do political leaders.

There’s also the issue of the protocol for appointing the next Supreme Court President. The coalition wants to do away with the seniority system and give the power to select a new chief to the Justice Minister. President Esther Hayut will end her service in October.


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