In the midst of ongoing mass protests in Israel against a raft of newly passed laws that the government terms a “judicial reform”, the country’s doctors staged a 24-hour strike in opposition to the legislation which limits powers held by the Israeli High Court. Meanwhile, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert describes tensions in the country as “civil war”.
Tuesday’s strike was called by the Israel Medical Association over concerns that reducing High Court oversight would result in healthcare workers being affected by arbitrary regulations orchestrated by the Ministry of Health.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert told UK’s Channel 4 News on Tuesday that by passing the legislation “the government of Israel has declared war on the people of Israel”. The legislation was a threat to Israeli democracy, Olmert said, posed by the government “which is perceived by large of population to be illegitimate”. The former PM said the move was the first one of its kind in Israel’s history and was “unacceptable”.
The initial set of laws was approved in the Parliament after a heated session on Monday. Masses took to the streets following the parliamentary approval of the legislation, after months of protests over proposals.
Opposition MPs accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of pushing Israel toward an autocratic regime by passing these legal amendments.
Israel’s Western allies condemn legal changes, Erdoğan continues to strengthen ties with Netenyahu
The situation has plunged Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been in office since 1996 and currently serving a sixth term, into one of the most significant political crises of his career. While he labelled the legal changes as “reform”, critics argue that limiting the High Court’s legal power could create a conflict of interest and potentially benefit Netanyahu, who is also facing bribery and corruption charges.
Israel’s Western allies, including the United States, have criticised these controversial legal amendments. The US administration considered the passing of the initial legislation as an “unfortunate” development.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to strengthen ties with Netanyahu. The two leaders were scheduled to meet on 28 July for the first time in 14 years, but the meeting was postponed due to Netanyahu last week undergoing heart surgery.
It is worth noting that Netanyahu’s last visit to Turkey was in 2009, before diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 2010 following the Israeli military raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza, during which nine Turkish activists were killed.