An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday night in what protesters describe as a “fight for Israel’s destiny” for sweeping judicial changes proposed by the new far-right government.
Israel’s longtime prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, returned to office last month at the head of a coalition of the conservative and religious parties that make it up. The most right-wing government in the history of the country.
The new administration has accused the Supreme Court of Israel of a left-wing bias and of overstepping its authority, which it is Seek to limit the powers of the court By giving the Knesset more control over judicial appointments and severely limiting its ability to overrule laws and government decisions.
The Tel Aviv protests, along with smaller demonstrations in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba, were sparked by concerns that the far-reaching proposals undermine democratic norms. Since Israel does not have a formal constitution, the Supreme Court plays an important role in keeping government ministers in check.
Netanyahu – himself to trial on charges of corruption, which he denies – he defended the plans. His opponents say the proposed changes could help the prime minister evade a conviction or even drop the case entirely.
Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapidas well as many other figures from across the country’s political spectrum, addressed protesters in central Tel Aviv on Saturday as the crowd waved the blue and white national flag and held up signs reading “No to dictatorship.”
“We have here in the streets representatives of many groups who don’t usually go out to protest, but who are here, even the right-wingers,” said one of the speakers, noted novelist David Grossman.
“This very diverse group is ready to put aside their differences and fight this existential battle… In its seventy-fifth year, Israel is engaged in a fateful struggle for its character, its democracy, and for its place in the rule of law.”
“The last big protest movement in Israel was about bringing down Netanyahu, but it’s no longer a matter of right and left,” said Noya Matalon, 24, a law student at Tel Aviv University. “Everyone – Arabs, Jews, even people who agree that we need some reforms in the system.” Judicial – everyone says they are afraid.
Musician Olly Dannon, 23, canceled a show scheduled for Saturday night so he and audience members could join the protests instead. There is a crisis in getting involved in politics here after five elections in a short period of time. There was a feeling that it was all just about Bibi,” he said, using Netanyahu’s epithet.
But this is bigger than Pepe now; It’s an emergency. I think the Supreme Court needs reform. Its provisions usually support the occupation [of the Palestinian territories]As it is now, the left wing is the one who came out to protest to defend him. It’s all absurd.”
The Saturday rallies build on similar demonstrations over recent weeks, including one in Tel Aviv last weekend that drew 80,000 people, nationwide student protests, and one outside a courthouse in Tel Aviv. Roy Newman, one of the organizers, said more street protests were planned, in addition to the strike.
I am optimistic that things can change, even if I am not optimistic about the State of Israel at the moment. We will increase our efforts: We coordinate strikes in sectors that would not normally intervene, such as lawyers, doctors and the technology industry. We can cut roads.
“It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen, but I think if it starts hitting the economy, they’ll have to listen up.”
In addition to the growing protest movement, the prime minister has faced pressure from Israel’s attorney general after last week’s ruling disqualified his key ally, Aryeh Deri, from government office over his conviction of tax violations.
It was Netanyahu Forced to expel the leader of the Shas party During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he declared as he did so that “the Supreme Court’s decision ignores the will of the nation.”
The coalition also faced an early test on Friday in the form of a row among cabinet members over the dismantling of a new Jewish settlement in Jerusalem. occupied West Bank.
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