Thousands demonstrate in Israel despite the judicial reform halt

The proposed reforms would curtail the authority of the Supreme Court. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Thousands of Israelis have demonstrated in Tel Aviv for the thirteenth week in a row against a controversial judicial reform that has been halted pending discussions with party leaders.

People carrying Israeli flags marched through the business capital of Israel on Saturday, screaming "democracy" and carrying placards denouncing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government.

In other cities, smaller demonstrations were held.

In January, protests broke out following the coalition's announcement of its reform package, which the government claims is required to counterbalance the powers of lawmakers and the courts.

Opponents have asserted that the proposed amendments could jeopardize Israeli democracy since they would diminish the Supreme Court's authority and grant politicians more control over the selection of judges.

On Monday, Netanyahu halted the passage of crucial legislation through parliament in response to a countrywide strike sparked by his declaration that he was dismissing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for asking for a halt.

Talks for compromise

On Tuesday, representatives of the majority of parliamentary parties convened at the residence of President Isaac Herzog to draft legislation acceptable to both political parties.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, from Tel Aviv, stated that most of the Israeli populace opposed Netanyahu's judicial reform proposals.

He stated, "Many people here do not believe the prime minister when he says he will engage in genuine consultations."

He noted that Netanyahu is under significant pressure from his far-right friends to continue with the court reforms despite widespread opposition to the idea.

Opponents characterized the government's initiative as an effort at a legal coup and a threat to the court's independence. Proponents have stated that they desire a less exclusive and interventionist bench.

On trial for corruption accusations he denies, Netanyahu stated that reforms are necessary to balance the government's three parts. His Likud party and far-right political allies have called on their political base to organize counter-protests.

The Israeli media claimed that over 150,000 people participated in nationwide anti-government demonstrations on Saturday.

Several political pundits and opposition politicians have expressed scepticism about the viability of Herzog's mediation efforts. The coalition has stated that it will finalize legislation during the next parliamentary session if negotiations fail.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu has not provided Gallant with the legal notice of dismissal. Thus the defence minister has continued to do his duties as usual.

Publish : 2023-04-02 08:34:00

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