Israel: Tens of thousands protest against the Israeli government
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated for the eighth consecutive week in the streets of Tel Aviv, Saturday, to protest against a controversial amendment to the judicial system that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to approve, which they see as a violation of democracy.
The demonstration comes after the approval of the Israeli Parliament, in its first reading on Tuesday, on two basic texts in the amendment.
The first provision renders the Supreme Court ineligible to overturn any amendment to Basic Laws which are considered to be the constitution of Israel.
The second text is the introduction of an exception clause that allows Parliament to overturn some Supreme Court decisions by a simple majority of 61 votes out of 120 members of Parliament.
“Democracy, democracy” and “We won’t surrender,” demonstrators in central Tel Aviv chanted, waving Israeli flags.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid attended the rally, as did his former ally Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, as well as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
The Israeli government formed by Benjamin Netanyahu in December as part of a coalition that included right-wing and ultra-religious parties announced a draft amendment to the judicial system in early January.
Opponents of the project considered that it aims to undermine the judicial authority in favor of the political authority, warning that it constitutes a threat to the democratic system.
However, Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin consider that amending the judicial system is an essential step to restore balance to the branches of power, as the prime minister and his allies consider Supreme Court judges to be politicized and have more power than that of elected representatives.
Until now, it seems that the demonstrations, which generally condemn the government’s policy, won’t deter Netanyahu and his majority from their goal.
The Israeli opposition, led by centrist leader Yair Lapid, has repeatedly accused Netanyahu of seeking to advance his personal interests through the amendment.
Some critics of the proposal linked it to the prime minister’s ongoing corruption trial and said he sought to undermine the justice system, which he has brought against him, which he denies and considers unfair and politicized.
Netanyahu rejected the criticism, denying that the proposed bill was related to his trial.