Thousands demonstrate in favor of Israel's disputed judicial revision

The right-wing protesters carried Israeli flags as they gathered outside parliament. (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

Tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis have taken to the streets of Jerusalem to demonstrate their support for controversial legislation proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government that would significantly diminish the power of the country's highest court.

Israelis remain divided over the proposed legislation, which the government says is necessary to rein in an overly powerful judiciary, but detractors say removes a vital check on those in power.

Outside of Israel's parliament, throngs of people could carry the blue-and-white Israeli flag, which has also been used as a symbol of the demonstrations against the proposed legislation.

Some individuals stepped on a carpet depicting the images of the president of Israel's Supreme Court and former attorney general. Numerous protestors wore badges and carried flags supporting far-right Israeli political parties.

"The nation demands judicial reform," chanted the masses.

After 16 weeks of mass anti-government protests that brought Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to a standstill and threatened to paralyze the economy, Netanyahu delayed the overhaul last month.

The objections on Thursday represented a rare display of public support for the plan.

Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right Israeli lawmaker and the country's finance minister, told the audience, "To all my friends seated here, see how much power we have." "They have the media and tycoons who will fund their protests, but we have the nation."

"We will fix what needs to be fixed," Smotrich declared.

"The nation demands a judicial reform," the throng responded. The Israeli media estimated that approximately 80,000 people gathered in Jerusalem on Thursday, many of whom had traveled from other regions.

On trial for corruption, Netanyahu and his far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners would have the final say in appointing the nation's judges under this proposal.

It would also give his allies control of the legislature the authority to override Supreme Court decisions and restrict the court's ability to review laws.

Opponents argue that the plan attempts to consolidate power in the hands of the prime minister and his extremist allies, thereby undermining Israel's democracy and system of checks and balances.

Support for the protests has come from secular and liberal Israelis, pilots and officers in elite military reserve units, high-tech business executives, and former government officials.

In addition, they argue that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest in attempting to transform the nation's legal system while he is on trial.

Many in Israeli society, including the ceremonial President Isaac Herzog, have urged the opposing parties to reach a compromise and urged the coalition to modify its initial proposals.

However, the atmosphere at the protest was defiant.

Israel's far-right security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, told the audience, "They haven't accepted the fact that we won."

"We will not break, and we will not give in," he said.

Publish : 2023-04-28 11:59:00

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