UPDATE - Israeli parliament approves controversial bill limiting ‘reasonableness standard’

UPDATE - Israeli parliament approves controversial bill limiting ‘reasonableness standard’

Bill would limit power of Israeli Supreme Court on decisions made by elected officials

ADDS ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER’S REMARKS

By Mahmoud Barakat

ANKARA (AA) - The Israeli Knesset (parliament) approved a controversial bill on Monday as part of the government’s judicial overhaul plan.

The Knesset’s TV channel showed passage in the second and third reading of a bill to limit the “reasonableness standard,” which the opposition says would curtail the powers of the Supreme Court.

The contentious judicial overhaul plan, spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has triggered 29 weeks of mass protests.

The government says the package is meant to restore power to elected officials, but critics argue it is a power grab by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption and was released from the hospital earlier in the day after an emergency heart procedure.

The judicial overhaul plan has divided Israel, facing unprecedented opposition from across society, including the military and the business sector.

On Monday evening, Netanyahu addressed Israelis after parliament passed the bill, local media reported.

He said the upcoming Knesset recess can serve as an opportunity to reengage in talks on consensual changes to the judiciary, the Times of Israel reported.

Netanyahu blamed the opposition for the failure to reach a compromise on the bill, the report said.

“Despite everything, my friends, we will continue to seek talks and agreements,” he added.

Pointing out the other planned elements of the overhaul, Netanyahu said the coalition would contact the opposition in the coming days for talks “to reach a general agreement on everything” by the end of November, referring to a month after parliament reconvenes following the summer break.

“That’s more than enough time,” he added.

According to the newspaper, opposition leader Yair Lapid called Netanyahu’s overture “an empty show, because it is not within his authority.”

“As anyone involved in attempts to reach broad agreements has discovered, Benjamin Netanyahu is not really Israel’s prime minister. He is a prisoner of (Justice Minister Yariv) Levin and (far-right politicians Simcha) Rothman and (Itamar) Ben-Gvir,” Lapid said.

He added that “the opposition will not be a partner in talks that are just an empty show.”

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