March 28, 2023

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Israel’s attorney-general warns Benjamin Netanyahu against judicial overhaul

2 min read

Israel’s attorney-general has ordered prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to get involved in a controversial overhaul of the country’s judiciary due to a conflict of interest stemming from the veteran leader’s ongoing corruption trial.

Since taking power in December, Netanyahu’s coalition with ultra-religious and ultra-nationalist parties, widely regarded as the most rightwing in Israel’s history, has made curbing the power of the judiciary a priority.

However, in a letter to Netanyahu, Gali Baharav-Miara said the PM should “avoid intervening in initiatives regarding changes in the judicial system” because there was a “reasonable concern” that his trial would pose a conflict of interest.

Netanyahu has been on trial for fraud, bribery and breach of trust since May 2020. He has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the charges as a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Attorney-general Gali Baharav-Miara warned that the planned reforms would ‘fundamentally change the democratic nature of the state’s governance’ © Tomer Jacobson

His office said the attorney-general’s position was “unacceptable” and requested two weeks to provide a full answer. Israel’s justice minister Yariv Levin said Baharav-Miara, who was appointed by the previous government, was seeking to prevent Netanyahu from expressing his views.

The clash comes amid a furious row over the Netanyahu government’s plans to overhaul Israel’s judiciary, which have sparked censure from numerous serving and former judicial officials, economists and two former heads of Israel’s central bank. It has also brought tens of thousands of Israelis on to the streets in protest.

Proponents argue that the changes — which will give the government and its allies control over the appointment of judges and allow a simple majority in parliament to override decisions by Israel’s top court striking down laws — are necessary to rein in an overly…

2023-02-03 05:24:38

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