Israel Witnesses One Of Its Largest-Ever Protests(Photos).
Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday, marking the 10th consecutive week of protests against government plans to reform the judiciary system.
Critics view the proposed reforms as a threat to democracy.
The rallies were held across the country, with the biggest one attracting an estimated 100,000 protesters in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
The protesters waved Israeli flags, and one of them, tech entrepreneur Ran Shahor, told AFP that the measures that the new government wants to take represent a real and immediate threat to Israeli democracy.
While the demonstrations took place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government was preparing to move forward with its legislative agenda next week, ignoring calls for a pause to allow for negotiations on the divisive plan.
The chair of the parliament’s law committee, Simcha Rotman, has scheduled daily hearings on parts of the government’s reforms from Sunday through Wednesday ahead of votes. Justice Minister Yariv Levin has said that the coalition plans to pass key elements of the reforms before parliament goes into recess on April 2.
The judicial overhaul, a cornerstone of Netanyahu’s administration, would give more weight to the government in the committee that selects judges and would deny the Supreme Court the right to strike down any amendments to so-called Basic Laws, Israel’s quasi-constitution.
These provisions have already been endorsed by lawmakers at first reading. Another element of the reforms would give the 120-member parliament power to overrule Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority of 61 votes.
Israeli President Issac Herzog, in his largely ceremonial role, has tried to broker dialogue and on Thursday called on the coalition to halt the legislation, dubbing it “a threat to the foundations of democracy.” The rallies broke up without any major incident, although police arrested three protesters who were blocking traffic on Tel Aviv’s ring road.
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