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Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

Knesset approves legislation curtailing Supreme Court's power

On 24 July, the legislature (Knesset) passed a controversial bill that limits the Supreme Court's power to scrutinize executive decisions by abolishing the 'reasonableness standard'. The reasonableness standard is used by the courts “to take into account all relevant considerations and grant them proper weight.” Israel’s Supreme Court has relied on this standard to review decisions made by the government. Notably, it was applied earlier this year to annul the appointment of Aryeh Deri as Health and Interior Minister due to his criminal convictions, compelling Prime Minister Netanyahu to remove him from office.

The legislation was adopted unanimously 64-0 by coalition MPs after opposition parties boycotted the vote (there are a total of 120 seats in the legislature). The approved law has been met with significant backlash, triggering widespread anti-government protests, heightened violence, and threats from thousands of military reservists to refuse their duty. Critics argue that the law could potentially enable the government to enforce policies without judicial review or oversight, which could possibly lead to abuses of power or unconstitutional actions. Following the bill's enactment, the Supreme Court declared on 26 July that it would review an appeal against the legislation in September.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Verfassungsblog, Reuters, New York Times (1), Times of IsraelNew York Times (2), Haaretz

Primary categories and factors
Rule of Law -1 Rule of Law  (-1)
Judicial Independence

Increased attacks on journalists

The recent escalation of violence in Israel has resulted in an alarming increase of attacks on journalists covering Israeli military operations and the persistent regional conflict. Many media and human rights groups are expressing their concerns over this growing trend of targeted assaults and efforts to restrict press freedom.  .As Israel intensifies its incursions into occupied territories, Israeli forces have been consistently targeting journalists while covering military operations in the West Bank. An Israeli raid took place in Jenin on 3 and 4 July, marking the largest operation of its kind since 2005 in which Israeli snipers directly targeted several journalists. Despite their ‘press’ labelled safety gear, these reporters were shot at while covering the attacks on the ground, as reported by the IFJ. On 12 July, ten Palestinians, including two journalists, were injured when Israeli forces stormed Nablus. The same day, a journalist's home in Hebron was raided by Israeli forces. There has also been an increase in assaults on journalists in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, further accelerating concerns about press freedom in Israel. The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) recorded 200 media freedom violations by Israeli forces in the first half of 2023.

Sources: International Press Institute, International Federation of Journalists, Times of IsraelAnadolu Agency, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)

Primary categories and factors
Rights -1 Rights  (-1)
Civil Liberties
Freedom of The Press
Rule of Law -1 Rule of Law  (-1)
Personal Integrity and Security

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