Israel: Protestors marched to Jerusalem ahead of the judicial amendments voting


Thousands of protesters against judicial changes sought by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marched to Jerusalem on Saturday, as pressure mounted on the right-wing government to scrap a bill that would reduce the powers of the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu’s national-religious coalition says the bill, which parliament is due to vote on by Monday, is necessary to balance the branches of power because the court has become too politically intrusive.

Opponents of the amendments say the court plays a crucial role in protecting civil rights in a country that has no constitution and a unicameral parliament dominated by the government.

The protesters marched in a kilometer-long column on the main road leading to Jerusalem under a scorching summer sun, carrying blue and white Israeli flags, to the sound of drums and anti-government chants and slogans.

The marches have been going on for days, with protesters camping out overnight, often met by locals offering them food and drink.

The protesters plan to gather in front of parliament before the start of a debate on Sunday, followed by a vote on the bill, which would limit the powers of the Supreme Court with regard to overturning what it considers unreasonable government or ministerial decisions.

On the other hand, the supporters of the bill are saying, that the aim of the bill is to facilitate effective governance while courts retain broad judicial oversight power.

Opponents say the amendments are moving too quickly through parliament and will open the door to corruption and abuses of power.

Opinion polls indicate widespread concern among Israelis, as the planned reforms have hit the economy and alarmed important ally Washington, even urging Netanyahu – who is on trial on corruption charges he denies – to seek consensus on the judicial changes.

The crisis has sparked divisions even within the army, which has long been considered an entity that brings together the various sects of society away from politics, amid concerns about combat readiness.

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