Netanyahu says judicial overhaul will proceed without controversial 'override clause'

Netanyahu says judicial overhaul will proceed without controversial 'override clause'

After domestic protests and international criticism, Netanyahu has told the Wall Street Journal that his government will go ahead with judicial overhaul without the most controversial aspect of it.

Despite Netanyahu's softening on the judicial override clause, he remains bullish on a suggested US-Iran nuclear deal [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he would push forward with planned judicial reform plan without its most contentious provision, which would have allowed the national legislature to override Supreme Court rulings.

“I threw it out”, Netanyahu said of the domestically and internationally condemned override clause, adding that there would be no more attempts by his government to implement what many consider to be a dangerous expansion of power that would give the Knesset, dominated by his far-right coalition, complete authority over the judiciary. 

The inclusion of the clause was particularly controversial as it comes at a time when Netanyahu is facing corruption charges, with many domestic critics seeing it as a means for him to protect himself from potential criminal convictions.

It also comes as his government seeks to resettle land in the occupied West Bank that Israel formally withdrew from as part of the disengagement plan in 2005. While all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law, the areas that the Netanyahu government want to resettle are illegal under Israeli law. 

Though Netanyahu said nothing to suggest he would stop his plans to overturn the 2005 Israeli disengagement and re-colonise former settlements the West Bank, the override clause would have made such plans easier to put into practice.  

The override law also would have put the fundamental freedoms of Palestinian citizens of Israel at the mercy of far-right political groups who support formal discrimination against them.

Despite Netanyahu's latest remarks, the bill is still a cause for concern, as it allows for political control over Israel’s formal processes for appointing judges and Supreme Court justices. Critics warn this could lead to a judiciary stacked full of government loyalists. 

Russia-Iran alliance 'very disturbing'

In another part of the interview, Netanyahu called the growing alliance between Iran and Russia in Ukraine “very disturbing”, adding that the relationship provides Iran with “the weapons or the means to advance its goals against Israel and others … Against the Arab states, and against many others.”

However, the Israeli prime minister ruled out aiding Ukraine with Israeli weaponry or US-held batteries from the Iron Dome defence system, despite pressure from US President Joe Biden to do so and claims made by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel that Netanyahu's policy is "pro-Russian". 

“If that system were to fall into the hands of Iran, then millions of Israelis would be left defenceless and imperilled,” Netanyahu claimed.

On the supposed US re-engagement with Iran over a nuclear deal, Netanyahu was as bullish as ever, saying that Israel’s actions towards Iran would not be determined by any deal struck between the Washington and Tehran.

“Maximum deal or mini-deal, nothing is going to stop us from doing what we need to do to defend Israel against a regime that openly says it's out to destroy us and is seeking to achieve the means to do so”, Netanyahu said.

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