2015 gas deal, saying it gave too much power to a small group of energy companies
On Monday, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled against a crucial aspect of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 agreement regarding gas, stating that it granted excessive authority to a select few energy companies.
The decision made is of great importance as it has the potential to reignite divisions within Israeli society that were present before the current conflict with Hamas.
The scheduled revamp caused widespread demonstrations for several months, and posed a risk of creating a constitutional conflict between the judicial and legislative branches of the government. It also unsettled the unity of the influential military.
ferocious round of fighting
The divisions were mostly set aside following a violent border attack carried out by Hamas militants on October 7th in southern Israel, which led to a fierce period of conflict.
For almost 90 days. However, the court ruling on Monday may trigger those conflicts once again, despite the ongoing war in the country.
On October 7, there was an attack that resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 individuals and the kidnapping of 240 others. Israel responded by declaring war and is currently carrying out an offensive that has allegedly caused the deaths of around 22,000 people in Gaza according to Palestinian health officials.
The Supreme Court judges voted 8-7 to invalidate the law due to its detrimental impact on the fundamental nature of Israel as a democratic nation.
The judges also ruled 12-3 that they possessed the power to invalidate “Basic Laws,” significant laws that function as a form of constitution for Israel.
Netanyahu and his staunch supporters suffered a major setback when the supreme court ruled that ultimate authority over the legality of legislation and important choices lies with them, not the national legislature. The judges stated that the parliament does not possess unlimited power.
The government led by Netanyahu may choose to disregard the decision made on Monday, leading to a potential constitutional dilemma regarding the ultimate power.
Shortly after assuming office a year ago, Netanyahu and his allies unveiled a comprehensive plan for reform. This plan aims to restrict the authority of judges, such as limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to review decisions made by parliament and altering the process for appointing judges.
Advocates argue that the modifications are intended to enhance democracy by limiting the control of judges who were not elected and granting more authority to elected officials. However, critics view the reform as a move by Netanyahu, who is currently facing corruption allegations, to seize power and attack an important oversight body.
The Supreme Court’s decision was praised as a significant win for advocates of democracy by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, a group dedicated to promoting good governance that had opposed the legislation.
The chairman of the group, Eliad Shraga, stated that a government that behaves unreasonably and makes irrational decisions is the only one that would eliminate the standard of reasonableness.
Prior to the conflict between Israel and Hamas,
Tens of thousands of Israeli citizens gathered in frequent demonstrations against the country’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Protesting against the government were members of the military reserves, such as fighter pilots and elite unit members. They stated that they would refuse to report for duty if the overhaul was approved. The reserves play a crucial role in the Israeli military.
Although the reservists promptly resumed their duties after the Oct. 7 attacks as a display of solidarity, it is uncertain what would occur if the reformation attempts were reinstated. Renewed protests could potentially weaken national cohesion and impact the military’s preparedness if soldiers refused to fulfill their duties.
In the Israeli system, the prime minister holds power through a coalition majority in parliament, effectively giving them control over both the executive and legislative branches of government.
The Supreme Court has an important role in overseeing the government. Some people believe that Netanyahu and his supporters are attempting to diminish the authority of the judiciary in order to gain more control over the third branch of government, which is meant to be independent and provide checks and balances.
Netanyahu’s supporters consist of a variety of ultranationalist and religious parties who have a series of complaints against the court.
His supporters have requested for a rise in.construction, annexation of the occupied territory, perpetuating military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men, and limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ people and Palestinians.
The United States had previously advised Netanyahu to delay the plans and work towards a general agreement among all political groups.
The ruling was made as Esther Hayut, the current president who is stepping down, is retiring and Monday was her final day in office.