Israelis flocked to towns and cities across the country on Saturday for 11 straight weeks of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government’s judicial reform plans.
Protesters fear the proposed reforms, which have already passed parliament, will increase the power of politicians in the courts and pose a threat to Israeli democracy.
Thousands of demonstrators waved blue and white Israeli flags and the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square.
Demonstrators blocked roads as they marched through the city centre. “Save Democracy!” said a placard held up by the crowd.
An AFP photographer witnessed a group of people taking part in a protest in support of the government in central Tel Aviv, some holding banners reading “traitor left”.
“I’m worried about my daughter and grandchildren, not about myself,” said Naama Mazoor, 64, a retired Herzliya city worker who attended a major rally in Tel Aviv.
“We want to keep Israel democratic and liberal. Of course we are Jewish, but we are liberal. We are very concerned about Israel becoming a dictatorship,” she told AFP. Told.
“There is no semi-democracy. We are either democracies or dictatorships. Nothing in between.”
Sagib Golan, 46, from Tel Aviv, said the government is “trying to destroy civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and everything that democracy stands for…we want to show the voice of democracy.” said.
Addressing protesters in the city of Ashdod, opposition leader Yair Lapid accused the government of rejecting the proposed compromise.
He said the members of the coalition “do not want to negotiate…they want to move forward with legislation and turn Israel into an undemocratic state.”
Israeli media reported tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in more than 100 towns and cities, including Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba.
A 57-year-old man was arrested after driving into protesters in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, and one was hospitalized, a police spokesman said.
– Compromise discarded –
Large-scale demonstrations have been held regularly across Israel since Netanyahu’s government announced reforms in January, just days after taking office.
Opponents of the package deny that Netanyahu is on trial for corruption charges, but accuse them of trying to use reforms to nullify a possible sentence against Netanyahu. Yes. The prime minister has denied the accusations.
Expressing concern over deepening rifts in Israeli society, President Isaac Herzog presented a proposed compromise on Wednesday, which the government promptly rejected.
“Someone who thinks a true civil war with human lives is a line that can never be reached doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Herzog said.
Opposition leaders said at a joint press conference on Thursday that they supported Herzog’s outline.
“The proposal is not perfect,” former Prime Minister Rapid said at the time. “It’s not what we wanted, but it’s a fair compromise that allows us to live together.”
The ruling coalition, which includes ultra-Orthodox Jews and far-right parties, has argued that the proposed reforms are necessary to correct the power imbalance between elected representatives and Israel’s Supreme Court. There is
Shortly after Herzog’s announcement, Netanyahu called it a “unilateral compromise” whose “point” would “only perpetuate the current situation and not bring about the necessary balance between powers.”
The reform would allow lawmakers to overturn Supreme Court rulings by simple majority vote.
Other proposals give more weight to the government in the committees that select judges and deny the Supreme Court the right to override amendments to Israel’s quasi-constitution, the so-called Basic Law.