Israeli lawmakers have approved a highly contested bill to gut the power of the Supreme Court by preventing it from blocking government decisions it deems unreasonable. The bill is part of a broader set of judicial reforms pushed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that have sparked months of unprecedented protests. Ahead of Monday’s vote, opposition lawmakers erupted in jeers and shouts of “shame!” before storming out of the Knesset, leaving the far-right majority led by Benjamin Netanyahu to pass the bill on a vote of 64 to 0. Later in the day, Netanyahu defended the legislation in a nationally televised address.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Today we carried out the required democratic move. The move was aimed at restoring a degree of balance between the authorities, which was here for 50 years.”
Massive protests against the judicial reforms are continuing in Tel Aviv, where on Monday police fired water cannons and a noxious chemical known as “skunk” at protesters. It’s believed to be the first time Israeli police have deployed the chemical agent against Israeli citizens; since 2008, Israel has repeatedly deployed “skunk” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israel’s military says it shot and killed three Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus. Seventeen Palestinians were also arrested in overnight raids. After headlines, we’ll go to Israel for the latest.