The Shin Bet security service has reportedly decided to boost the protective details assigned to Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who are on opposing sides of the government’s contentious push for a judicial overhaul that would shift powers away from the courts and toward politicians.
According to the Channel 12 news report Wednesday, the agency ordered the move after identifying a rise in threats against both Hayut and Levin. No details were given about the reported threats.
The report said the enhanced security would be put in place at their respective homes and public events they attend, and will include covert measures.
The network also reported that responsibility for Levin’s security will soon be transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office from the Shin Bet unit that has been protecting him since a previous stint as Knesset speaker.
The Shin Bet said in response that it does not comment on security arrangements.
The report came as tensions between the government and the judiciary have spiked dramatically since the new government took office three weeks ago over the far-reaching judicial changes proposed by Levin. Last week, Hayut and Levin traded recriminations after the chief justice lambasted the planned shakeup.
Changes proposed by Levin include weakening the Supreme Court so that it will not be able to veto legislation and policies deemed unconstitutional, and granting the government control over the panel that selects judges. Critics say that along with other planned legislation, the overhaul will impact Israel’s democratic character by upsetting its system of checks and balances, granting almost all power to the executive branch, and leaving minorities undefended.
Reforming the court has been a major conservative goal for over a decade, with many on the right and among the ultra-Orthodox frustrated by what they see as an activist bench made up of progressives undermining the country’s right-wing majority.
In her speech last week, Hayut denounced Levin’s plans as “a fatal blow to Israeli democracy,” and an “unbridled attack on the judicial system as if it were an enemy that must be attacked and subdued.”
Levin in turn accused Hayut and the court of having an explicit political agenda and of partnering with opposition parties in opposing his plans.
“It turns out there’s another party in Israel — a party that didn’t run in the elections two months ago, a party that places itself above the Knesset, above the public referendum,” said the justice minister.