An historic showdown is taking place in response to months of demonstrations against the radical Israeli government’s very contentious judicial reform.
For the first time, all 15 members of the Supreme Court will be present to hear appeals against a law that restricts their own authority.
On Monday night, thousands of Israelis gathered outside the court in Jerusalem for a rally in support of the judges.
Critics claim the action will erode democracy and judicial independence.
Yaron, a father-of-two from Netanya on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, stated, “We want to make sure [the judges] are not intimidated by all the threats that this government makes.” “Democracy is at stake here,”
It was more emotional for Orly, who traveled from Modiin with her buddy. She believed that Israel’s core character was in jeopardy.
“Our parents perished in the Holocaust. For this nation, we battled,” she declared. The government cannot be allowed to act however it pleases. There is nowhere else for us to go.
Supporters of the change countered that by preventing the court from rejecting an elected government’s decisions, the reform improved democracy.
There is pressure on the Supreme Court to overturn the statute, even though its deliberations could take weeks or months.
Members of Mr. Netanyahu’s government, though, have threatened to disregard it if it does. A constitutional crisis over who has more power could result from this.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave the chief justice a stern warning last week at a far-right demonstration on the “reasonableness” legislation, which impacts a fundamental Israeli law and is one of a number of laws that are crucial in the lack of a national constitution.
“Invalidating a Basic Law is a deviation from all of your authority and will be the end of Israeli democracy,” Mr. Smotrich said. “I implore you from here, do not decide in a way that will divide the people of Israel.”
A young protester in the crowd told the BBC: “I see that there will be blood in the street. It’s a somber reminder of the social rifts that have emerged. The right will become more aggressive if the left is already hostile.
When questioned about whether he would uphold a decision that would invalidate the new law, Mr. Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges that he denies, has been evasive.
Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets since the start of the year as a result of the coalition’s judicial campaign. Israel is currently experiencing its worst domestic crisis in years. It has also prompted comments of worry from international partners and hurt the economy.
A significant percentage of reservists declaring they would not report for voluntary duty has had a negative impact on the military. Defense authorities issue a warning that Israel’s ability to wage war may be compromised.
“It is probably the most powerful, unimaginable thing we have ever imagined that we need to do,” said Yiftah Golov, an activist with the reservist organization Brothers in Arms. “I’m signing here and now that I won’t be present for volunteering in order to defend my country.”
Israel’s top judges will also be forced to make difficult decisions about their own futures during additional hearings in the upcoming weeks.
According to a former head of the intelligence section at Israel’s Mossad espionage agency, the Netanyahu administration is playing with fire and may encounter strong opposition.
According to Haim Tomer, “I think based on, let’s say, hunches and hints from inside, that Mossad, [the internal Shin Bet security force] Shabak, police and chief of staff when there is a dilemma, they will say we obey the Supreme Court.” It’s not a Netflix series; it’s our security and way of life.
So far, Mr. Netanyahu and his political adversaries have been unable to come to a solution. However, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has persisted in making efforts to mediate between the two sides.
On Monday, the prime minister stated that he was trying to “exhaust every possibility” to find a consensus, while the leader of one opposition group offered encouraging words.
However, Mr. Netanyahu’s main political adversaries responded skeptically, and some members of his own coalition took uncompromising stances, with one far-right minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, vowing he would not “surrender”.