Israel is on edge ahead of a parliament vote on judicial reform, which critics warn could potentially stifle democracy and give the Knesset supremacy over the judiciary. Last week, protests in Tel Aviv caused chaos after local police commissioner Ami Eshed resigned for refusing to take tough measures against demonstrators. Netanyahu has summoned his attorney-general for a cabinet meeting to discuss police countermeasures. A large supermarket chain has announced it will shut down stores if the judicial reform passes in parliament. Hamdah Alkindi, Senior Researcher of Dubai Public Policy Centre, discusses the current situation in Israel and its potential implications on its foreign policy and the Abrahamic Accords.
What is the current situation with the Judicial Reform Vote in Israel and what is the reason for this happening?
In January 2023, Israel's newly elected government implemented legal reforms, recognizing the Supreme Court's significant power over important issues. The Knesset argued for this power, but the Supreme Court stopped them if they deemed certain issues unjust. Maintaining a balance between minority Arabs, women's rights, and the right and left wings is crucial in Israel. If parliament or Knesset had this power, the decision pertaining to rights will be hostage to political consideration instead of justice and human rights which represent a threat to the core of Israeli democracy as they see it and this is the reason for the public uproar. The current government proposes several clauses, including the ‘reasonableness clause', which allows the government to choose judges based on the government's agenda, rather than the supreme court's decision. This clause gives the political institutions (regardless of their agendas) the power to override the court ruling. Considering the current makeup of the government you can see how explosive this can be since they can override court rulings on issues like expansion of settlement.
What impact will this have on Israel's foreign policy?
The Israeli government has approved a crucial clause, which will lead to the approval of other clauses. This change will include religion and conservative concepts in all political, economic, and developmental initiatives. This will result in a focus on the current extremist agenda and increased approval of annexation, which the international community opposes. The current government's power will lead to expanding the settlements, and various ministers and cases seeking to change the status quo.
Jordan, the custodian of Jerusalem's holy places, faces extremist efforts to change their status quo. The court is now implementing more statements, announcements, and initiatives to change the status quo. But now we can expect to see more statements, announcements, and initiatives coming from the court trying to change the status quo of these holy places. The vote could increase the recruitment of extremist groups Harradine and Orthodox into the army, potentially leading to harsher military operations and aggressive treatment of Palestinians.
In summary, this could result in annexation, a shift in Jordan's status quo, and increased extremist aggression and operations.
What could be the impact of this development on the Abrahamic Accords?
The Abrahamic Accords were signed by the UAE to promote tolerance and cooperation among countries like India, China, and America. The UAE aims for economic and developmental cooperation for the growth and development of its community. The Accords were seen as a start for cooperation with Israel, aiming to strengthen relations with Palestine. However, if there is an increase in agendas and actions against Palestinians, it goes against tolerance, which is a critical principle for the UAE. The current coalition government in Israel could significantly impact the Abrahamic Accord, making it a failure if it does not promote tolerance and cooperation between the three countries.
Interview by Asha Nair