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Business leaders, bank heads tell Netanyahu that judicial reforms will turn Israel into a dictatorship

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 19, 2023. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

A group of members from the Israel Business Forum on Tuesday signed a letter of protest against Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies regarding their continued efforts to reduce the independence of the Israeli Supreme Court, arguing that the reforms will “[turn] Israel into a dictatorship.”

Several Israeli businessmen, as well as the heads of Israel's five largest banks – Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank – were among those who signed the letter.

The letter states that the group’s primary concern is the proposed changes to Israel’s Judicial Selection Committee.

“We call on you to immediately stop the planned legislative moves, chief among them the law to change the committee for the selection of judges,” the letter stated.

Judges in Israel are currently selected by a committee with nine members: three Supreme Court justices, two members of the Israel Bar Association and four elected officials – the justice minster, another minister and two Knesset members, one traditionally selected from the opposition.

The reform proposed by Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin would change the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee to ensure that elected officials constitute the majority of the committee’s members.

The Israel Business Forum letter stated that such a reform would tear at the fabric of Israeli society.

“This law seriously harms the legal system and undermines the foundations of democracy based on the separation of powers and the independence of the legal system, and turns Israel into a dictatorship,” the letter stated. “This move will seriously damage Israel’s economy, and beyond that, it will damage Israeli society as a whole, its resilience, its security and its values.”

While sharing the sentiments of many protestors throughout Israel, the letter did not explain why increasing the power of elected officials to select judges would undermine “the foundations of democracy,” or transform the State of Israel into a “dictatorship.”

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

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