Massive protest due to right-wing government’s judicial changes in Israel | Israel

An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, and protesters described it as “a struggle for the fate of Israel” over the sweeping judicial changes proposed by the new far-right government.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s long-time prime minister, returned to office last month at the head of a coalition of conservative and religious parties that formed him. the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

The new administration has accused the Israeli high court of being left-leaning and overstepping its authority. wants to limit the court’s powers By giving the Knesset more control over judicial appointments and severely restricting its ability to overturn laws and government decisions.

The Tel Aviv protest, along with smaller demonstrations in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba, was fueled by fears that sweeping proposals would undermine democratic norms. Since Israel does not have an official constitution, the high court plays an important role in keeping government ministers in check.

Netanyahu – himself charged with corruption, which he denied – defended the plans. His opponents say the proposed changes could help the prime minister evade conviction and even get the case dropped altogether.

Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapidas well as other figures from across the country’s political spectrum addressed demonstrators in central Tel Aviv on Saturday as the crowd waved the blue and white national flag and held placards that read “No to Dictatorship”.

“Here, representatives of many groups that don’t usually go out to protest are on the streets, but even sworn rightists are here,” said one speaker, renowned novelist David Grossman.

“This highly diverse group is ready to put aside its differences and wage this existential struggle … In its 75th year, Israel is engaged in a fateful struggle for its character, democracy and the status of the rule of law.”

A protester holds a banner at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night
A protester holds a banner at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Photo: Eyal Warshavsky/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Noya Matalon, 24, a law student at Tel Aviv University, said: “The last major protest movement in Israel was about overthrowing Netanyahu, but it’s no longer a question of the left and right. Everyone agrees – Arabs, Jews, even the judicial system, that we need some reforms. even those who are – everyone says they are scared.”

Musician Ollie Danon, 23, canceled a show scheduled for Saturday night so he and the audience could join the protests instead. “After five elections in a short time, there is a crisis of political engagement here. There was a feeling that it was all about Bibi,” he said, using Netanyahu’s pseudonym.

“Still, this is bigger than Bibi now; It’s an emergency. I believe the Supreme Court needs reform. Its decisions usually support the occupation. [of the Palestinian territories]and somehow the left wing now protesting to defend it. It’s all nonsense.”

Saturday’s meetings build on similar demonstrations in recent weeks, including an 80,000-strong demonstration in Tel Aviv last weekend, student protests across the country, and protests outside a Tel Aviv courthouse. One of the organizers, Roee Neuman, said more street protests were planned alongside the strike action.

“While I’m not optimistic about Israel’s situation right now, I’m optimistic that things can change. We will step up our efforts: we coordinate strikes in sectors that would normally never get involved, such as lawyers, doctors and the tech industry. We can close the roads.

“It’s hard to predict what will happen, but if it starts to hit the economy they will have to listen.”

Adding to the growing protest movement, the prime minister has faced pressure from Israel’s attorney general after a decision last week disqualified his key ally, Aryeh Deri, from government post for his conviction for tax crimes.

Netanyahu Shas party had to fire its leader In his statement at the cabinet meeting on Sunday, he declared that the “high court decision ignores the will of the people”.

The coalition also faced an early test on Friday in the form of a disagreement among cabinet members over the removal of a new Jewish settlement in the area. occupied West Bank.

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