JERUSALEM, March 27 (Reuters) – Israel’s politics has been thrown into turmoil by plans proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new, hard-right government to overhaul the judicial system, a move which has prompted protests at home and concern among allies abroad.
Below is a timeline of events related to the plans:
Dec. 29 – Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is sworn in as head of a hard-right government.
Jan. 4 – Netanyahu’s new government announces a plan to allow parliament to overturn some Supreme Court rulings and grant the government more say in nominations to the bench.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin says: “These reforms will strengthen the judicial system and restore public faith in it.”
Jan. 5 – U.S. ambassador to Israel Tom Nides says of the plans: “I’m not in a position to tell Israel what to do. But I am certainly willing to express my concerns and anxiety from where we stand.”
Jan. 12 – The president of Israel’s Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, says the judicial reform plan would crush the justice system and undermine Israeli democracy.
S&P Global Ratings director Maxim Rybnikov says the judicial reform proposals could put pressure on Israel’s sovereign credit rating even as the budget remains under control.
Jan. 14 – In the biggest protest so far, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrate in cities against the judicial plans, with organisers saying they will undermine democratic rule. Netanyahu dismisses the protests as a refusal by leftist opponents to accept the November election results.
Protests expand in following weeks.
Feb. 1 – Economy Minister Nir Barkat tells a conference the judicial plans will not harm the economy or trigger a brain drain, although shares of the stock market have slipped and tech firms say investors are concerned.
Feb. 2 – In an official legal advisory to the justice minister, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara says the plans will harm the country’s democratic checks and balances and risks giving government unbridled power.
Feb. 5 – President Isaac Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, says: “Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, allow for dialogue because there is a huge majority of the people who would like dialogue.”
Justice Minister Yariv Levin says he will not freeze “for even a minute” legislation for the overhaul.
Feb. 13 – Lawmakers trade insults in parliament over the judicial plans amid protests outside as the president warns that Israel is on the brink of “constitutional collapse”.
Feb. 19 – U.S. envoy Nides tells a U.S. broadcaster: “We’re telling the Prime Minister, as I tell my kids, pump the brakes, slow down, try to get a consensus, bring the parties together.”
Feb. 21 – U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk says the judicial plans will “drastically undermine” the ability of the judiciary to uphold human rights and rule of law.
Feb. 25 – German Ambassador Steffen Seibert tells Israeli television that Berlin is watching the dispute and believes an independent justice system is a tenet of democracy.
March 5 – Dozens of Israeli air force reservists say they will not turn up for a training day in protest, joining a growing number of reservists staying away because of the plans.
March 15 – President Herzog presents alternative changes to the judiciary, saying “most Israelis want a plan that will bring both justice and peace.” Netanyahu rejects the idea.
Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron urges the government to maintain the independence of the judicial system.
March 19 – U.S. President Joe Biden says he supports “efforts underway to forge a compromise on proposed judicial reforms”, the White House says after a call with Netanyahu.
March 20 – Netanyahu announces steps he says will soften his judicial overhaul plan but the opposition reject the claim and says it will still challenge key legislation in the Supreme Court.
March 21 – Top officials at Israel’s Finance Ministry say the judiciary overhaul could seriously harm the economy, documents show.
March 24 – The attorney general accuses Netanyahu of breaking the law by ignoring a conflict of interest over his ongoing trial for corruption and getting directly involved in the judicial overhaul plan.
Netanyahu faces shouting and whistling by protesters opposed to his plan during his visit to London.
March 25 – Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, calls on the government to halt legislation on changes to the judiciary, saying the dispute poses a danger to national security.
March 26 – Netanyahu sacks his defence minister, prompting hundreds of thousands to take to the streets in a wave of protests across the country.
March 27 – Netanyahu is expected to call a halt to his judicial plans but an announcement is delayed as he struggles to stop his nationalist-religious coalition from falling apart over a climbdown.