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Amid protests and political drama, Knesset passes Reasonableness Standard Bill, opposition boycotts final vote

Vote caps weeks of protests and hours of debate over the bill to limit judicial review

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lawmakers gather at the Knesset plenum to vote on a bill that would limit some Supreme Court power, in Jerusalem July 24, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Knesset passed the Reasonableness Standard Bill in its final reading this afternoon. 

Despite several last-minute attempts to amend the bill or propose a compromise, the coalition rejected all 140 opposition reservations to the bill and moved forward to final voting. 

Following the second reading, the opposition announced it would boycott the final vote, which it did. The bill passed with 64 votes in favor and 0 votes against. 

With the decision to boycott, there was also no possibility, as some protesters had hoped, for a small group of coalition members to vote against the bill. 

Just prior to the final voting, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich reportedly made an attempt to reach a compromise, calling for a six-month postponement of the judicial reform legislation. His proposal was rejected by Justice Minister Yariv Levin and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. 

The vote took place after almost 30 hours of debates on the Knesset floor with tens of thousands of protesters demonstrating outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. 

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested the coalition government and the judicial reforms nationwide over the last 29 weeks. 

Following the announcement of the bill’s passing, the Kaplan Force protest organization issued a statement: "The government of the destruction of the Temple voted to crush the State of Israel as we knew it - we will fight them to the end.”

The group announced they intend to continue their demonstrations against the government.

“We will continue a stubborn struggle that will only get worse and worse, and in the end, Israel will return to being a democracy," the statement said.

"Thanks to the unprecedented democratic movement, Israel will remain a democracy, the State of Israel belongs to the people of Israel and not to a monarchical regime. Now we all need to step up a gear, to struggle like never before. Don't be confused – we've just begun."

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid blasted the coalition for abusing its power and promised to petition the High Court over the bill.

“This is a sad day, a day of our home's destruction, of needless hatred. I look at the coalition celebrating and ask, 'What are you celebrating?' The fact that you are dismantling the Jewish state? What happened here today is not within the framework of democracy. This is something else. This is a complete violation of the rules of the game."

“The government and coalition can choose what direction the state goes in, but it can’t decide the character of the state,” he added, saying, "Tomorrow morning, we will petition the High Court against this losing legislation. We don't give up and we won't give up.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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