Shortly after midnight, democracy was abolished in Israel at first reading. This is the view of the opponents of the judicial reform, the first parts of which passed the Knesset early Tuesday morning. Proponents claim the opposite: the reform frees the country from the grip of a politicized judiciary and brings democracy back. They accuse the leaders of the protest of disregarding the majority conditions.

However, according to a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, more than 60 percent of Israelis oppose the plans, which aim to politicize the election of judges and weaken the Supreme Court. Tens of thousands have been taking to the streets for weeks; and it is not to be expected that the protest will subside.

Are high-tech companies moving away?

The mood is agitated. You meet Israelis who feel threatened by their own government and talk about moving away or moving their capital abroad. The protest is considerable and may have surprised Netanyahu. The prime minister fears above all that Israel's economic power could suffer from bad press – some high-tech companies have already announced that they will leave the country in protest.

You don't have to paint the devil on the wall – Israel won't collapse anytime soon. But the biggest domestic political crisis in many years relentlessly exposes fault lines. The majority of Israelis are politically more right-wing. Because Netanyahu is also a red rag for many of them, two equally large camps have faced each other in recent years. The formation of a government was only possible if Netanyahu joined forces with the most radical forces of the religious and right-wing spectrum.

The result is a coalition in which an uninhibited will to power prevails. Virtually all the relevant statements by Attorney General Levin and Judiciary Committee Chairman Rothman speak to the idea that corrupt elites dominate the country and that the will of the majority is the only yardstick. And the majority wants the reform.

The latter, as I said, is not even true. The reservations that persist in the "second Israel" of the Mizrahi Jews, mainly from Middle Eastern countries, against the "first Israel" of the Ashkenazim of European origin are in turn based on facts. Because the later immigrated and poorer Mizrahim were discriminated against for decades. For a long time, the judiciary in Israel was not very diverse: more than half of all Supreme Court judges were secular Ashkenazi men. However, this has begun to change.

Even the remaining criticism of the alleged "rule of the judges" does not stand up to scrutiny in its generality. The reform advocates claim that the planned changes only introduce procedures that are taken for granted in Canada, New Zealand or Great Britain. Experts from these countries themselves have now criticized these comparisons as misleading.

The picture is clear

The vast majority of Israeli legal experts, meanwhile, reject the claim that excessive restrictions are currently being imposed on the government and parliament. At the same time, many agree that reforms should be considered in the system in which some procedures and competences were not clearly regulated and were therefore shaped by the Supreme Court. There are also proposals to revive the stalled process, to give Israel a formal constitution.

The government's reform proposals are not suitable for this. Even in view of some possible ambiguities, the many planned elements of judicial reform cannot be considered in isolation. The big picture is clear: the Netanyahu government is trying to bulldoze the field of separation of powers in Israel. The result would be virtually unlimited rule by the ruling coalition. Unlike in the case of Hungary or Poland, for example, there are not even supranational institutions such as those of the EU that could still serve as reins.

In terms of the current government, which includes radical settlers and religious fanatics, Netanyahu would be the only moderating factor. The unusual and clearly expressed criticism from friendly countries such as the USA or France should not pass him by unscathed. Nevertheless, his willingness to engage in dialogue is feigned as long as his corruption trial continues. Only a Netanyahu, who no longer faces a prison sentence, will be willing to stop the bulldozer.