The coming week is the most important since Justice Minister Yariv Levin first announced the judicial reforms on January 4, and may go down as one of the most fateful in years.
The Knesset is gearing up for a legislative battle before it recesses on April 2. The coalition packed the legislative schedule this week in order to pass into the law the first and perhaps most important bill of its judicial reform, which alters the makeup of Israel's Judicial Appointments Committee, as well as a number of other laws.
Opposition leaders announced last week that they would not negotiate over the reforms during the Passover recess, which ends on April 30, if the coalition passes the Judicial Appointments bill, even with the "softened" proposal that was announced last week. Protest leaders also rejected the proposal, and are stepping up the intensity of protests in order to attempt to stop the bill's passing.
Israel prepares for deepening crisis
The bill's passing will deepen the ongoing crisis and will drag the country into further chaos. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may attempt to call off the vote until after the recess, coalition hard-liners in the Likud, Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionist Party will apply all the pressure they can for it to pass. A delay could thus destabilize the coalition, as Justice Minister Yariv Levin has threatened to resign if the reform does not advance.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant may speak out against the law due to the security establishment's concern over refusals to deploy for IDF reserve duty. If he does so, he will face the wrath of the hard-liner's wing - and this may lead to his resignation or another upheaval within the coalition.
This is only part of the picture.
The Incapacitation Law, which passed on Thursday morning, blocks Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara from announcing that Netanyahu is unfit for service due to a violation of the conflict of interest agreement. Netanyahu did not waste time and announced on Thursday that he would become involved in the details of the reform in order to solve the crisis. Until now, his "hands had been tied" by the AG, he said.
Baharav-Miara wrote to Netanyahu on Friday that his announcement violated the agreement, which bars him from becoming involved in anything – including the reform – that could affect his ongoing corruption trial.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel appealed to the High Court that Netanyahu be held in contempt of court and face the consequences, including "heavy fines and prison."
It is not clear when and how this issue will be resolved. But even if the reform legislation is postponed, it could develop into a crisis of its own in the near future.
Nearly three months of turmoil are thus expected to come to a head this week, and it is doubtful if anyone - including Netanyahu himself - knows where we will be next weekend.