Amid rallies against the far-right government, Israel's parliament passed a law Thursday to protect the prime minister from being removed from office.
The measure, which passed 61-47 in the Knesset, dictates that the prime minister can be deemed unfit to rule only for mental or physical health reasons, and that only he or his government can make that determination.
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in the prime minister's office Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2023.
Critics say the law is tailored to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a corruption trial, facing charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He denies the allegations.
Netanyahu's attempts at a judicial overhaul, with changes that limit the power of the Supreme Court and give politicians less oversight in their policymaking, have made him a controversial figure. The plans have brought tens of thousands of Israeli citizens to the streets in protest, including Thursday, when police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators and arrested some on public disturbance charges.
The debate over the overhaul comes from a longstanding rift between secular Jewish Israelis and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers who see the courts as a threat to their traditional way of life. In contrast, secular opponents of the changes fear they will lead to religious coercion.
'Either Israel will be a Jewish, democratic and progressive state - or religious, totalitarian, failing, isolated and closed off,' Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister and prominent supporter of the protests, told Israeli Army Radio. 'That's where they are leading us.'
Some information from this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France Presse and Reuters.