Steinmeier criticizes judicial reform in Israel
Bundespresident Frank Walter Steinmeier expressed his concern about the planned judicial reform in Israel in clear words on Friday. The government’s planned “restructuring of the rule of law” in Israel causes him concern, Steinmeier said on Friday at a reception on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the University of Haifa. Germany has “always looked with great admiration at the strong and vibrant rule of law in Israel” and knows “how necessary this strong and vibrant rule of law is in the region”.
Such open criticism of the government work of a friendly country is unusual for federal presidents, since they traditionally stay out of day-to-day political issues. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuwhose ultra-right governing coalition is pushing judicial reform through the Israeli parliament, is expected next week for his first visit since returning to government office in Berlin.
Netanyahu’s central project
In his speech, Steinmeier also referred to the “regular exchange with my friend and colleague Isaac Herzog”, the Israeli President, on whose “clever and balancing voice” he relied. In a television speech on Thursday evening, Herzog called on Netanyahu’s government to stop the judicial reform and spoke of a threat to Israeli democracy. “It’s wrong, it’s harsh and it undermines our democratic foundations,” Herzog said of the government’s plans.
Judicial reform is a key project of Netanyahu’s coalition. Among other things, it is intended to give Parliament the opportunity to overrule decisions of the Supreme Court with a simple majority. In addition, the government would have significantly more influence on the appointment of judges. In Israel, protests against the plans have become increasingly popular in recent weeks. At the beginning of the week, Herzog himself tried to mediate a compromise between opponents and supporters. Now, however, he is calling for the reform to be withdrawn in favor of a “joint project”.