Conflicts & War

More than 600K Israelis protest judicial overhaul amid cracks in gov’t

Jerusalem, Mar 25 (EFE).- A record 630,000 people took to the streets in Israel on Saturday to protest against the right-wing government’s planned judicial overhaul even as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call a halt to the initiative.

The main demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, drew some 300,000, while 65,000 gathered in Haifa, 22,000 here in Jerusalem, and 20,000 in Beersheba, according to figures from the Umbrella Movement of Resistance against Dictatorship in Israel.

Police made arrests when dozens of protesters tried to block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv and resorted to water cannon to disperse the crowd.

The 13th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations against the bill, which would allow a simple majority of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – to overturn Supreme Court decisions and give politicians effective control over judicial appointments coincided with the first major crack in the ruling crack in the ruling coalition.

At present, the high court has the authority to strike down legislation it sees as violating the Basic Laws that make up Israel’s evolving constitution, while judges are chosen by consensus among jurists and lawmakers,

Gallant, a former general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), expressed concern that hundreds of IDF reservists, including air force pilots and special forces officers, have threatened to stop reporting for duty if the overhaul is enacted.

“I’ve presented this picture to Prime Minister Netanyahu. At this time, we must stop the process and sit down to talk,” he said in a televised speech.

“Now I’m saying it in my own voice, publicly: we must stop the legislative process and allow the people of Israel to celebrate together on Passover and on Israel’s national independence day, and mourn together on our national memorial day and the official Holocaust memorial day,” he said.

Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, had planned to speak out on Thursday but held off at the prime minister’s request.

Thursday night, Netanyahu made a national address urging dialogue on the proposed reform and seeking to reassure women, LGBTQ people, and secular Israelis that reducing the authority of the Supreme Court would not jeopardize civil and personal rights.

At the same time, he insisted that the Knesset will approve the judicial selection provision as written.

“We were not born yesterday and we are not protesting for a temporary freeze of the judicial coup. We will not fall asleep. We demand a complete repeal of the legislation, and until then, the resistance will only intensify,” the Umbrella Movement said after Gallant spoke.

The Knesset this week passed a law making it impossible for the Supreme Court to suspend Netanyahu – currently on trial for alleged corruption – from office on the basis of conflict of interest.

EFE sga/dr

Related Articles

Back to top button