The judicial reform of Benjamin Netanyahu's government is causing concern in large parts of the world public and also in the German media landscape. But the project has also unleashed a storm of protest in Israel itself.
Nevertheless, the reform package deserves a differentiated view. Not all of its components are as questionable as the general outrage suggests. There are, for example, changes in the composition of the Supreme Court, which plays a particularly important and active role in Israeli politics.
So far, its judges have been appointed by a college that includes the respective government and representatives of the parties in parliament, but in which they have never had a majority over the members of the judiciary, namely the incumbent judges of the highest instance and representatives of the bar associations. According to Netanyahu's reform plans, the government and parliament should be able to have a majority in this body.
From a German perspective, this can hardly be seen as inadmissible politicization. The electoral committee, for example, which appoints the judges for the Federal Constitutional Court, is entirely determined by politics. Anyone who accuses Netanyahu of wanting to rob the supreme court of its independence should first fight for freedom for Karlsruhe.
There are also demonstrations in Germany against Israel's controversial judicial reform. CDU leader Friedrich Merz is now visiting the country and draws a mixed balance. "The visit comes at a moment when tensions are greater than ever before," says Nikolaus Doll, author of WELT's political editorial team.
Source: WELT/ Thomas Klug, Nele Würzbach
The situation is different with Netanyahu's plan to overturn judgments of the highest court through simple parliamentary majorities. This plan is hardly compatible with a democratic separation of powers. The order in which legislation is passed is also significant.
The first thing Netanyahu did was to get a law through parliament on Thursday that would only allow prime ministers to be removed from office for health or psychiatric reasons and only with a three-quarters majority in the cabinet. Removal from office due to bribery or other legal allegations is thus excluded.
The fact that this law was a priority for Netanyahu fuels the suspicion that his main concern is not reform of the state, but saving himself from the ongoing corruption processes, which could also end up in the supreme court.
Rebuilding the state for the good of the ruler does not bode well for Israeli democracy.