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Divisive legal reforms 'damage' Israeli democracy: lawyer

Israeli Supreme Court president Esther Hayut and all 15 judges assemble to hear petitions against a key element of the government's controversial judicial reforms
— Jerusalem (AFP)

A leading Israeli lawyer urged the Supreme Court Tuesday to strike down a controversial plank of the government's judicial reforms, saying it had already caused "severe damage" to Israeli democracy.

An unprecedented 15-judge panel convened to hear petitions against legislation which challenges the powers of the top court itself, by curbing its ability to overturn government decisions.

After a 13-hour hearing, the court gave the government 21 days to substantiate its arguments but did not set a date for a decision.

Detractors say the move paves the way for authoritarian rule, as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's broader judicial overhaul.

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