Biden Cautions Israel about Judiciary Plan

( – President Biden is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be cautious as his government pursues a massive reform of its judicial branch.

Netanyahu’s coalition, which currently runs the Israeli government, has succeeded in their quest to overhaul what it claims to be a Supreme Court with too much power. The struggle over the judiciary represents a sharp partisan divide in Israel. On one side are the right-wing orthodox Jews who have a more nationalist view of the nation. On the other side are the more liberalized Jews, who believe that Israel should become more secular and pluralist.

Now that the vote has passed, the Supreme Court will be reformed to better favor the future selection of right-wing judges. The current coalition government is seeking to change the nine-member committee that selects judges for the Supreme Court by allowing for a majority of the members to be right-wing.

The current Supreme Court is seen by many on the religious right as the last remaining branch of government that still represents a more centrist and moderate approach that dominated Israeli politics during the first few decades of its existence. This centrist disposition most notably compelled the Supreme Court to rule an exemption of orthodox Jews from military service unconstitutional. In Israel, most men and women need to do mandatory military service when they turn 18. The High Court’s 8-1 vote in favor of the moderates enraged members of Israel’s religious right.

The fight over the country’s Supreme Court has catalyzed major protests. Israel’s largest trade union, which previously said it would not intervene, has now decided to go on strike. Many universities have also agreed to close down their campuses during the protests. Even some members of the religious right are now backing away from the push to restructure the court, contending that the government went too far too fast. Following the passing of the change, even doctors have gone on strike.

Most notably, however, Israel’s military leaders warned that, due to fears among reserve personnel that a weakened judiciary would mean being given illegal military orders and their subsequent indictment by international courts, the country’s reserve forces will start declining. Reserve military personnel make up a significant portion of its total fighting capability.

Copyright 2023,