Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired on Sunday that “more than half of Israelis” feel that the country’s judicial system is against them.
The CBS News show’s report was based on a visit by “60 Minutes” anchor Leslie Stahl to Israel in August to investigate Israel’s judicial reform and the ongoing protests that have swirled around it for the past nine months.
“Of course, I respect the opinions of those who see my reform as something that could do any harm,” said Levin, who has led the government’s reform effort. “But I can assure you that the fears are completely baseless.”
“The current situation in Israel is [that] the judicial system is completely controlled by a group, an elite group—more than half of the Israeli population finds itself as if the judicial system is something that is almost against them,” he said.
Stahl opened the segment by referring to the government’s reform push as a “judicial overhaul,” stating, “This legislation would weaken the Supreme Court’s power, eliminating checks and balances put upon the government’s authority.”
Stahl focused the segment on Achim L’Neshek, or “Brothers in Arms,” a group of IDF reservists who oppose the reform.
“Members of the group brought their skills, common military backgrounds and extreme dedication to the cause,” she reported.
Ahead of his departure to the United States on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out against anti-reform protesters, saying they are “joining forces with the PLO and Iran” in harming the Jewish state.
“The protesters have made blocking roads a normal event, refusal [to serve in the military] normal, and they are defaming Israel before the world,” said Netanyahu. “I was the head of the opposition and I did not slander Israel before the world,” he added.
His comments, and the airing of the “60 Minutes” segment, come on the heels of last week’s contentious Supreme Court hearing on petitions asking to strike down an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary the Knesset passed on July 24. The amended law bars justices from using “reasonableness” as a justification for reversing decisions made by the cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”