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Netanyahu in 2012: Democracy needs ‘strong and independent’ legal system

A video of Prime Minister Netanyahu from 2012 (Photo: Screenshot)

A February 2012 video showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defending the necessity of a “strong and independent” legal system has been viewed widely in Israel over the past few days.

The clip, edited from a speech the premier gave in 2012, seems to contradict recent moves by Netanyahu’s new governing coalition in the pursuit of judicial reforms. In the speech, Netanyahu discussed the need for an independent judiciary to protect rights, saying, “Wherever there is no strong and independent judicial system, rights cannot be protected.”

Such a “judicial system is what enables the existence of all other institutions in a democracy,” Netanyahu said.  

He also spoke of the actions he had taken to protect an independent judiciary.

“In just the last few months, I shelved every law that threatened to harm the independence of the system,” he said in the speech. 

The clip had over 140,000 views by Saturday, though it was only posted on Friday. The viewer base is not likely to have included members of the ultra-Orthodox sector of the country, which refrains from using electricity from Friday sunset to Saturday sundown. 

Some viewers commented on a seemingly apparent contradiction between Netanyahu’s statements 11 years ago and his present actions, saying the video could be used as a tool in anti-reform protests. 

Netanyahu’s serving coalition members argue that the Israeli judiciary overstepped its bounds and became a political body, while Netanyahu said the November elections themselves incorporated a form of protest by the people.

“Several months ago, there was a huge demonstration, the mother of all demonstrations. Millions of people went into the streets to vote in the elections. One of the main topics that they voted on was reforming the judicial system,” Netanyahu said at his Sunday morning Cabinet meeting.

A recent poll conducted Israeli Now 14 news showed a majority of respondents supported most of the proposed judicial reforms. 

The only suggested reforms that did not receive a majority of supporters were the proposals to cancel the “Unreasonable Clause” (47% in favor) and to allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court decisions with only a simple majority (47% in favor). 

A previous poll – commissioned two weeks ago by Israel's Channel 12 – found that 39% of those questioned opposed the government’s judicial overhaul, while 29% were in favor.

Netanyahu, himself, recently spoke about the need for a proper balance of authority in a democratic system. 

“Democracy is built on a proper balance between the three authorities and this balance exists in all democracies in the world,” Netanyahu said, claiming the proposed reforms are “for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel.” 

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

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