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Judicial regulation and protests in Israel: How have we come to this?

While the protests that started on January 7 against the judicial regulation of Prime Minister Netanyahu's government in Israel continued, Netanyahu announced that the regulation was postponed. So, how did we get to today?

Although Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has delayed submitting the judicial regulation, which has caused protests in the country for weeks, to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, the protests in the country have not ended. According to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot, 34 of the 130 groups that organized protests in the country announced that they would continue their actions against the judicial regulation after Netanyahu's statement.

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How we have come to today?

Early general elections in Israel were held on 1 November 2022. Led by Netanyahu's Likud Party, the right-wing bloc won a majority of 64 deputies in the 120-seat Israeli Parliament.

According to the official results announced by the Israeli Central Election Committee, the Likud Party won 32 deputies. The far-right Religious Zionism Party finished third with 14 deputies, while Shas, one of Netanyahu's ally ultra-Orthodox parties, won 11, and the United Torah Party won 7 deputies.

After the elections, the government established by Netanyahu, who received the authority to form the government from President Isaac Herzog, received a vote of confidence from the parliament on December 29, 2022.

On January 5, 2023, just after the newly formed government received a vote of confidence from the parliament, the Netanyahu government announced a package of "judicial reform" that limited the powers of the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.

The regulation in question envisaged the weakening of the Supreme Court's power to review or reject laws, with a simple majority in the legislature able to override court decisions.

According to the arrangement, which would bring the commission that appoints the judges to be completely under the control of the government, ministers would not be required to follow the advice of legal advisers led by the attorney general. The legislation in question would also make it difficult to dismiss office holders deemed unsuitable for the post.

The first protests against the Netanyahu government's judicial regulation were also made on Saturday (January 7th), two days after the announcement of the judicial package.

The following protests continued on Saturdays, especially in Tel Aviv. According to Israeli police, about 80,000 Israelis attended the demonstration held in Habima Square in central Tel Aviv on Saturday, January 14th.

Three votes were required in the legislature for the bill to pass. The regulation in question passed the first vote on February 21, in the third week of the protests.

Protests in Israel continued after this vote. On March 9, there were nationwide calls for an "action of civil disobedience" against the government's judicial regulation.

On March 16, Netanyahu rejected the aforementioned "People's Bill", which was presented by Herzog warning of "civil war".

One of the important breaking points in the protests took place on March 26. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who called for a halt to judicial regulation.

Asaf Zamir, the Consul General of Israel in New York, also resigned from his post, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets and universities began to strike.

Flights were suspended at the country's largest international airport, Ben Gurion, due to reaction strikes.

Finally, on March 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was delaying judicial regulation, which caused mass protests and strikes across the country.