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February 13, 2023 9:23 am

Israeli Parliament Committee Faces Shouting, Singing and Dramatic Exits

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avatar by i24 News

Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich clashes with security personnel during a Knesset session, June 13, 2021. Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/Reuters

i24 News – Israel’s parliament (Knesset) Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday exploded in intense screaming fights, singing, and dramatic exits as coalition and opposition members sparred over the two pieces of legislation slated to pass – the judicial reform.

The two bills would form the basis of the government’s plan to virtually eliminate the High Court’s capacity to check Israel’s parliament, the judicial reform that has been the basis of multiple protests across the country for several weeks. These reforms were first proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin in early January.

Lawmaker Simcha Rothman removed opposition members that began singing. Chants of “Shame!” could be heard from protesters gathering outside the parliament. One of the bills, written by Rothman himself, would prevent Israel’s High Court from blocking legislation that contradicts one of Israel’s basic laws, which acts as the country’s de facto constitution.

“I welcome the initiative of the president to hold a real dialogue that will deal with ways to correct the judicial system and to restore the relationship between it and the various government authorities,” said Rothman.

“You will burn up the country!,” Idan Roll of the centrist Yesh Atid party told Rothman, the panel chairman from the hard-right Religious Zionism bloc before being ushered out. Videos also showed lawmakers crying at the session, being consoled by other parliament members.

Rothman’s bill – called the “override clause” – would allow the Knesset to pass laws that go against the 12 Basic Laws without intervention from the Court. The bill requires the court to agree unanimously that legislation is unconstitutional, and if even one of the 15 judges disagrees, the Knesset could repass the law with a majority.

Disruptions continued for over half an hour, preventing the committee from moving forward. Finally, however, the first judicial reform bill was able to be passed 9-7 in favor of the bill, as opposition members protested loudly.

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