Following hours of high tension, protests and political maneuvering in Israel, the “Reasonableness” bill that will reduce the Israeli Supreme Court’s power to strike down some government decisions passed its third reading in the Knesset, and is now law.

The new law passed with 64 votes in favor and 0 against, as opposition MKs boycotted the final vote on the bill in protest. The law stipulates that courts can no longer use a “reasonableness” standard to strike down decisions made by the cabinet or government ministers, including appointments. See further background on the new law here and see here to read arguments on why many feel it will diminish the checks and balances of the Israeli system of government.

The law passed after almost 30 hours of continuous Knesset debate that began on Sunday morning. During that period, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country both in favor of and opposed to the bill. This morning, hundreds chained themselves to the entrances to the Knesset to try and prevent MKs from entering the building. Many businesses, shopping malls and other venues were shuttered.

On landing back in Israel last night from an official visit to the United States, President Isaac Herzog went straight to the hospital bed of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who had a pacemaker implanted yesterday), before meeting opposition leaders, to try to reach a compromise. This morning, the president said, “We are in a state of national emergency. This is the moment for responsibility…During these decisive hours, I call on elected officials to act with courage, and to reach out in order to arrive at an understanding.” Within the Knesset, last-minute attempts were made to amend the bill or to come to a broader compromise (see more here), but none of these efforts ultimately bore fruit.

The leadership of the Jewish Federations of North America will be meeting this afternoon to consider further steps.

For further reading, see:

Rebecca Caspi is senior vice president for Israel and overseas and director general of the Israel office at JFNA.

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