Conflicts & War

Tens of thousands protest plan to overhaul Israel’s courts

Jerusalem, Feb 4 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday in Israel’s major cities for a fifth round of protests against the plans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to limit the authority of the Supreme Court and give politicians the biggest say in choosing judges.

Roughly 60,000 people demonstrated at two different locations in the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv, and another 40,000 took part in mobilizations across Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

In Modiin, west of Jerusalem, protesters gathered in front of the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the author of the proposed judicial reform, which would allow a simple majority of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to annul Supreme Court rulings, and would eliminate the tribunal’s power to bar individuals with criminal records from holding high office.

The high court used that authority last month to force the resignation of a Cabinet minister with past convictions for financial crimes.

Netanyahu’s coalition, the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, holds an absolute majority in the Knesset.

Marchers carried Israeli flags and signs in Hebrew and English denouncing what critics see as an attack on the separation of powers and on the fundamental tenets of democracy.

At present, the Supreme Court can strike down legislation that contravenes Basic Laws, measures that have the status of constitutional articles.

The first protest in Tel Aviv against the Levin plan, on Jan. 7, involved around 12,000 people, while 80,000 participated on Jan. 14. The numbers swelled to more than 120,000 the following week.

Last Saturday, amid mourning for seven people killed the previous day in a shooting outside a synagogue in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, turnout in Tel Aviv dropped to around 40,000. EFE jma/dr

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