Activists to protest at train stations as coalition fast tracks ‘reasonableness’ bill

Opposition MKs plan to slow down committee voting, with coalition seeking to add unplanned plenum day in Knesset; Liberman calls for boycott of votes

Yesh Atid MKs wear black t-shirts adorned with Israeli flags during plenum deliberations on the 'reasonableness' bill, at the Knesset, July 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid MKs wear black t-shirts adorned with Israeli flags during plenum deliberations on the 'reasonableness' bill, at the Knesset, July 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As the government seeks to fast track passage of the first element of its judicial overhaul, protesters are planning another “day of resistance” for this week.

Opponents of the judicial overhaul said they will rally at train station platforms across the country on Tuesday afternoon as part of their day of protests, aiming to disrupt the one transportation method that has been generally undisturbed by their movement.

Organizers said that protesters will also hold a march in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning to the headquarters of the Histadrut labor federation and an evening demonstration on the coastal city’s Kaplan Street and other locations across Israel. Demonstrators have been aiming to pressure Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David to call for a general strike in protest.

The coalition is planning to convene the Knesset plenum this coming Sunday — when it does not traditionally meet — as part of its efforts to pass the “reasonableness” bill into law before parliament recesses at the end of the month.

The move came as members of the opposition are trying to slow down the passage of the legislation, which seeks to prevent courts from using the test of “reasonableness” in evaluating decisions made by the government or elected officials.

Opposition members of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee asked Knesset legal adviser Sagit Afik to allow them more time to submit objections to the so-called reasonableness bill, which would push off the vote in the committee to approve the contentious measure for its final plenum readings.

Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman chairs a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on July 16, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Currently, Knesset Constitution Committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman — an architect of the government’s judicial overhaul — intends to complete all committee activity on the bill this week, sending it to the Knesset plenum for its final readings next week. The legislation passed its first reading last week.

In a letter to Afik on behalf of opposition lawmakers, Yesh Atid MK Yoav Segalovitz slammed Rothman’s handling of the deliberations, requesting that the lawmakers be provided immediately with the minutes of all the panel’s meetings on the legislation.

“Rothman is preventing the public from hearing and understanding the consequences of canceling the ‘reasonable’ test,” tweeted Segalovitz. “The entire legislative process led by Rothman in the committee is flawed. It’s done this way because the overhaul is being led by a bunch of messianic fanatics who shut their ears to the truth.”

Benny Gantz, head of the opposition National Unity party, slammed the coalition for seeking to rush the legislation through the Knesset in the next two weeks.

Gantz said that instead of convening ministers to address the security, diplomatic and economic challenges facing the State of Israel, “Netanyahu will continue to surrender to extremists.”

“On the eve of Tisha B’Av, Netanyahu again chooses to tear apart the nation. It’s still not too late to stop,” added Gantz, referring to the fast day mourning the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, which will begin the evening of Wednesday, July 26 and carry through Thursday, July 27.

National Unity party chief Benny Gantz speaks during a press conference in the Knesset, July 12, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman, meanwhile, urged fellow opposition party leaders to boycott the final votes on the “reasonableness” bill.

Citing the government’s “unilateral advancement of the legislation,” Liberman said such a boycott would cause the bill to be approved “64-0, like in North Korea.”

“We cannot give legitimacy to legislation that harms Israeli democracy and national resilience,” Liberman tweeted.

Critics say the legislation is part of the government’s attempt to shield itself and its decisions from judicial review, enabling it to appoint unqualified or corrupt officials and oust technocrats it has deemed disloyal. Supporters of the move say it is necessary to correct the overreaching of unelected judges interfering with the decisions of a democratically elected government.

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