Jerusalem, Jul 21 (EFE).- At least 15 people were arrested Thursday night in demonstrations throughout Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised speech in which he defended his controversial judicial reform and said it would “strengthen democracy.”
Seven people were arrested in Tel Aviv, where protesters again blocked its main artery, the Ayalon highway, for several hours; and another eight in the nearby city of Ranana, for “violations of public order,” a police spokesman said.
Pro-democracy activists blocked the Tel Aviv highway several times, setting fires and beating drums to prevent mounted police and watercannons from dispersing them, while protesters also gathered in front of the police stations to demand the release of the detainees.
The protests arose unexpectedly, after Netanyahu confirmed his government’s intention to go ahead unilaterally with judicial reform and blamed the opposition for the lack of consensus for breaking off dialogue.
“It was a speech full of lies and incitement. The prime minister, instead of leaving the country intact, is choosing a dictatorship,” the organizations said. “It is time for citizens to come out and resist.”
Parliament, controlled by coalition parties, will hold an extraordinary plenary session Sunday – when the plenary session does not usually meet – to vote on the second and third reading of the bill that eliminates the doctrine of reasonableness. This will be the first judicial reform law to go ahead after almost seven months of controversy and social division.
This doctrine allowed the supreme court to review and revoke government decisions and appointments based on whether they are reasonable. Annulling it would eliminate the balance system of a democracy, according to the detractors of the reform.
“The one responsible for what is happening today in the economy, for the rupture of our social fabric and above all for the damage to security, the one that is causing the army to crumble from within, is the most extremist government in the country’s history,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said about the position of more than 4,000 reservists. He also referred to pilots and soldiers from elite and intelligence units, who have expressed their intention not to report for duty if the reform keeps going. EFE