Controversy engulfs Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to the presidency

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, returned to power after a November 1st election despite being accused of political and fiscal corruption. Netanyahu was able to form a majority vote of 63 out of 120 parliamentary votes by forming a highly conservative cabinet. Before this election, Netanyahu had been Israel’s Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, and was reelected in 2001. He then served for twenty years, and has become Prime Minister once again. 

Shortly after Netanyahu was sworn in, he stated his intention to promote peace and tolerance, hoping to end the Israeli-Arab conflict. Netanyahu hopes to successfully form diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, and he also plans to foil Iran’s nuclear program and increase Israel’s military capacity.  

Netanyahu was the candidate for the Likud party, which is Israel’s conservative political party. In the past, the Likud party has promoted the development of settlements in the West Bank, the portion of Palestine occupied by Israel, and has a history of making anti-LGBTQ comments. 

In the beginning of January 2023, Netanyahu and his far-right cabinet announced their plan that would allow Parliament to revoke some Supreme Court rulings, granting Netanyahu and his cabinet a larger role in nominations to the Supreme Court. Netanyahu and his cabinet were asked why they intend on going through with this plan. 

“People we [the cabinet] did not vote for decide for us. That’s not democracy,” said Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a senior member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet.

The proposed measure would give the Knesset, or Israel’s House of Representatives, more oversight in Supreme Court decisions. This plan would also allow the Knesset to overrule some of the Court’s ruling if they can get a 61 seat majority out of the 120 seat Parliament. 

Shortly after this announcement, the Supreme Court ordered Netanhayu to dismiss a senior cabinet member, Aryeh Deri, from Netanyahu’s cabinet due to Deri’s tax fraud conviction. Netanyahu has expressed contempt in regards to Deri’s removal. 

Other conflicts recently arose within the coalition when a partner of Netanyahu’s cabinet, the Religious Zionist Party, boycotted a cabinet session in protest against the destruction of a settler outpost in the West Bank. 

Defence Minister Yoav Galant, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, ordered the West Bank outpost to be demolished because it had no building permit. The Religious Zionist Party wanted the decision to be delayed. This put Defence Minister Galant against Religious Zionist Party leader, Bezalel Stormich, who holds some responsibility over the West Bank due to a coalition deal with Netanyahu. In solidarity with the Religious Zionist Party, Jewish Power, another highly conservative party, said it would demand the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian base in a major West Bank area.