The Israeli parliament introduced a bill on Monday that would make it harder to remove the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the corruption charges against him, as it plowed ahead with a broader plan to overhaul the country’s justice system in the face of mass protests.

Legislators in The Knesset gave tentative approval during a late-night vote on the bill, which would allow parliament to declare a prime minister unfit to rule solely on physical or mental grounds.

The body was expected to vote later on a measure that would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings and enact laws that had been struck down. Both bills require additional votes before becoming law.

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The moves were the latest in a series of moves by Netanyahu’s coalition to overhaul Israel’s justice system. The prime minister and his allies say the effort is aimed at reining in an activist court. Critics say the move would upend the country’s democratic checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his parliamentary majority.

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Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist and religious coalition allies have vowed to push ahead with the law changes despite demonstrations by tens of thousands of Israeli protesters over the past two months. Business leaders, legal experts and retired military leaders have joined the protests, and Israeli reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty if the review passes.

In a late-night vote, the Knesset tabled a bill that would shield Netanyahu from calls to oust him, replacing current law that opens the door for a leader to be removed in other circumstances. The new bill would require the approval of three-quarters of the cabinet and could be overridden by the prime minister.

The move has personal significance for Netanyahu, who returned to power late last year after Israel’s fifth election in less than four years. He is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes and denies the charges. The trial has been going on for almost three years.


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Netanyahu regains power at the head of the far-right Israeli government, protesters express anger in the streets


Good governance groups and other critics have called on the country’s attorney general to find Netanyahu unfit for office.

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Speaking to members of his Likud party on Monday, Netanyahu lashed out at Israeli media, saying they are sending a “never-ending tsunami of fake news” against him. He reiterated his claim that the legal review will strengthen Israeli democracy.

Opposition lawmaker Orna Barbivai said the bill was “a disgrace, saying the prime minister is above the law.”

Israel’s Palestinian minority, which makes up about 20% of the population, has been largely absent from the protests, in part because they suffer discrimination in Israel and because of Israel’s treatment of their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza.

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