Israeli anti-government demonstrations over the proposed judicial reforms are still going on.
Israeli anti-government demonstrations over the proposed judicial reforms are still going on. Tens of thousands of Israelis have assembled for a sixth week of demonstrations against controversial judicial changes planned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration.
Protesters withstood torrential rain in Tel Aviv’s central city on Saturday, brandishing blue and white Israeli flags and screaming anti-Netanyahu justice minister slogans.
“I’m here tonight to oppose Israel’s transformation from a democracy to an autocrat,” Dov Levenglick, a 48-year-old software engineer, told Reuters in Tel Aviv.
“It is a shame, and it will not stand.”
The planned changes, which the government believes are essential to limit judicial overreach, have sparked heated criticism from groups such as lawyers and aroused concerns among business leaders, expanding Israel’s already profound political divides.
Critics claim the administration’s intentions to tighten political control over judicial nominations and limit the Supreme Court’s ability to reject government judgements or Knesset laws will harm Israeli democracy.
“They want to sever Israel’s justice system, they want to sever Israeli democracy, and we’re here every week in every weather… to fight against it and for Israeli democracy,” 35-year-old Hadar Segal told Reuters in Tel Aviv.
Protests were recorded in 20 places around the country, according to local media.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed the gathering in Haifa, saying in a social media video, “We will defend our country because we are reluctant to live in an undemocratic society.”
Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, has characterised the rallies as leftist opponents refusing to accept the results of last November’s election, which elected one of Israel’s most right-wing administrations in its history.
Due to a recent tax cheating conviction, he was compelled to remove a prominent minister, Aryeh Deri, who represents the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.
In addition to the judicial changes, his administration has declared plans to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as social measures that have alarmed the LGBTQ community.
Dania Schwartz, 44, of Ramat Gan, told AFP that demonstrators were “reclaiming” the Israeli flag.
She expressed anxiety that “this new government will try to enact regulations that will affect my children” because she is a member of the LGBTQ community.
“For example, the Noam party wants to delegitimize families like ours, which is quite frightening,” she said, referring to one of Netanyahu’s coalition partners notorious for its anti-gay attitude.