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Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down controversial law rolling back judicial powers | World News

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Israel’s Supreme Court has struck down a controversial law passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government that rolled back some of the high court’s power and sparked nationwide protests.

The new legislation had removed one of the methods by which the Supreme Court can quash government and ministers’ decisions.

The law would have stripped the court of its ability to void such decisions that it deemed “unreasonable”.

Opponents had argued that the legislation may open the door to corruption and improper appointments of unqualified allies to important positions.

Eight of 15 justices ruled in favour of nullifying the law, the court said in a statement, and added that they ruled to strike down the law because it would severely damage Israel‘s democracy.

The proposed legislation, passed in July, was part of a broader judicial overhaul proposed by Netanyahu and his coalition of religious and nationalist partners which caused a deep rift in Israel and concern over the country’s democratic principles among Western allies.

People take part in a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist coalition government's judicial overhaul ahead of an appeal against an amendment that curbs some powers of the Supreme Court, in Jerusalem, September 11, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israelis take to the streets in July to protest against the controversial legislation

Those divisions were largely put aside while the country focuses on the war in Gaza but today’s court decision could reignite those tensions, which sparked months of mass protests against the government and had rattled the cohesion of the powerful military.

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Netanyahu’s Likud party said the decision was unfortunate and that it opposed “the will of the people for unity, especially during wartime”. Opposition lawmakers praised the ruling.

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It comes as Israel pulled five brigades, amounting to several thousand troops, from Gaza in the first significant drawdown of soldiers since 7 October.

There were several other developments in the Israel-Hamas war as New Year’s Day came to a close:

  • Israel also pulled tanks out of some Gaza City districts today, residents said, as it announced plans to shift tactics
    and cut back on troop numbers;
  • The US said this signalled the start of a shift to lower-intensity operations in northern Gaza
  • Hezbollah said three of its fighters were killed in southern Lebanon;
  • Also in Lebanon, the Israeli military said it struck Hezbollah targets and that five soldiers were wounded by cross-border fire;
  • Hamas fired a large barrage of rockets towards Israel, including its commercial hub Tel Aviv, as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve;
  • Israel’s defence minister says some communities that had been evacuated to the north of the Gaza Strip will be able to return soon;
  • The US Navy said it will end the deployment of the Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier in the Middle East which started after the 7 October attack.

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