1 of 6 | Israelis protest outside the Knesset, the Parliament, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial reforms in Jerusalem on Monday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Demonstrators took to the streets Monday in Israel to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to overhaul the country's judicial system as two votes on the proposal advanced in the Knesset.
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is expected to pass the unpopular measure that would fundamentally upend Israel's legal system by handing Netanyahu's government full control over the country's judiciary, with the sovereignty of the Supreme Court also at stake.
If it passes a preliminary vote, the measure will go before the general assembly for a first reading as soon as Monday and then a vote by the full governing body in the coming days.
Under Netanyahu's plan, the Supreme Court would lose its ability to overturn laws passed by the Israeli parliament and allow for high court decisions to be overturned by a simple majority in the national assembly.
The proposal would also allow politicians to leverage more authority to appoint judges as the legislation provides for Netanyahu's coalition to receive five of the high court's nine members, with only a simple majority needed to appoint judges to every court in Israel.
The administration has also called for government lawyers to be classified as political appointees, which would strip the attorney general's oversight authority.
The plan has touched off deep political discord in Israel in recent weeks, including massive street protests, while many prominent voices have expressed concerns about the government becoming destabilized.
On Friday, thousands of Israeli military reservists, veterans and their supporters rallied at the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem to protest the proposed overhaul.
Throngs of protesters waving placards and Israeli flags arrived Monday outside the Knesset in the capital of Jerusalem, where Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid rallied the crowds, saying "We will not stay quiet ... We will not stay quiet as they destroy everything that is precious and sacred to us."
Meanwhile, former defense minister and National Unity leader MK Benny Gantz urged Netanyahu to call off the plan in favor of a bipartisan committee to make judicial reforms.
"If we do not find a way to preserve the law in the state of Israel and let the rule of law be what guides our life in the state of Israel -- then we will not be a democratic state," Gantz said. "What this new legislation does is to dismantle this system and in its place establishes a tyranny of the majority, and this is not democracy."
Adding fuel to the growing unrest throughout the region, Israeli fighter jets launched a retaliatory airstrike overnight Sunday that targeted Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip, officials said.