World Zionist Organisation demands Israel backs down on judicial reform plans

Liberal delegates also won a vote to mark Pride Week in order to strengthen LGBT inclusion


Right-wing Israelis attend a rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ????? ?? ???? ?????? ??????? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ????

The World Zionist Organisation has sent a strong message to the Israeli government not to proceed unilaterally with plans for judicial reform.

In an extraordinary meeting of the Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, liberal delegates won a string of decisive votes over the right that also included calls not to amend the Law of Return and to mark Pride Week in order to strengthen LGBT inclusion.

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein from London, who chairs the international Progressive religious Zionist movement Arzenu, said: “It’s very clear a vast majority of world Jewry are not in favour of the policies the current Israeli government are pushing.

“It shows a consensus of world Jewry sits with the centre-left and not with the right-wing parties represented in the Israeli government.”

WZO deputy chairman Yizhar Hess, who represents the Conservative Mercaz movement, said: “Faced with the most extreme government in Israel’s history, world Jewry has gone on record - Israel must remain a liberal, Jewish and democratic state.”

The Israeli government’s proposals for judicial reform - which critics say will weaken the power of the Supreme Court - unleashed a wave of demonstrations in Israel and among expatriates abroad in recent months.

In a resolution proposed by Muhlstein herself, the WZO called on the government to “reach consensus agreements that will bolster the democratic nature of the state of Israel and the checks and balances in the structure of government, while providing protection for human rights, minorities and women”.

The Congress also declared its opposition to amending the Law of Return, which currently allows the non-Jewish grandchildren of a Jew to claim Israeli citizenship.

It also called for “national institutions” including the WZO and the Jewish Agency “to find a way to celebrate Pride Week”.

The WZO is made up of delegates from Israel and the diaspora who represent not only Zionist political and religious movements but also groups such as the women’s organisation Hadassah.

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