Judicial reform protest gets personal as Netanyahu lawyer threatens to quit

Boaz Ben Zur, who is defending the prime minister in two of his corruption cases, says he’ll stop unless legislation is paused.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The nationwide protest against the government’s judicial reform attempt just got personal for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a top lawyer in his corruption trials threatened to quit if the legislation is not paused, Channel 12 reported Monday.

Boaz Ben Zur has been representing Netanyahu in the most serious case against him, Case 4000. In that case, he is accused of bribery in allegedly pushing for regulatory reforms that helped the joint owner of telecommunications provider Bezeq and Walla! News, Shaul Elovitch, make hundreds of millions of shekels, in exchange for more positive coverage in the news site.

He is also one of Netanyahu’s lawyers in Case 2000, according to which the prime minister is facing charges of fraud and breach of trust for allegedly making a deal with the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot daily for better coverage in return for hamstringing a competitor paper, Israel Hayom.

Ben Tzur cannot unilaterally make the decision to step down from the cases he has been involved in for well over two years. The court must give him permission to do so, which is not necessarily a given due to the delay this would entail in the continuation of the trials.

NY consul general resigns

A different resignation took effect immediately on Sunday – that of Israel’s consul general in New York, Asaf Zamir. A member of the Yesh Atid party headed by the Opposition’s Benny Gantz, he had been appointed to the important diplomatic position in October 2021, during the “unity” government led by former prime minister Naftali Bennett.

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As a critic of the judicial reform package, Zamir tweeted on Sunday, “I quit,” with an icon of the Israeli flag.

According to his attached letter, it was “time for me to take action,” believing that “this reform undermines the very foundation of our democratic system and threatens the rule of law in our country.” He would instead “join the fight for Israel’s future alongside fellow citizens, as we work together to build a better, more just and more equal Israel.”

Zamir had already been summoned to Israel last week after speaking against the reforms at a fundraising event in New York, making his resignation unsurprising.

The nationwide controversy over the reforms, which the government insists are necessary because an unelected judiciary has overreached in controlling the legislative process, has led to weeks-long, massive demonstrations across the country by its opponents.