For the tenth week in a row, protests have been held in Israel against the reform plans of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ultra-right government. The turnout was massive. In several cities such as Haifa, a record number of demonstrators have taken to the streets. According to Israeli media, 200,000 people were on the move in Tel Aviv.
The demonstrators are angry about the reforms, which should result in the Supreme Court being given less power in favor of parliament. For example, the court should no longer be allowed to intervene if there is a majority in parliament for a law, even if it conflicts with existing laws. Critics fear for the rights of minorities, such as Palestinians and LGBTI people. They say that Israel is in danger of turning into a dictatorship.
The changes could also allow Netanyahu, who is suspected of bribery, to avoid a possible conviction or even have his case dropped altogether. The prime minister believes that the voter has given him a mandate for the reforms in view of the results of the previous elections. According to Netanyahu, these are intended to ensure that the Supreme Court does not abuse its power.
The protest movement has only grown in recent weeks. Reservists, a key part of Israel’s army, are threatening conscientious objection if the reforms are implemented. And on Monday, fighter pilots on the reserve list said they would not participate in their training with an elite Air Force unit. Eventually they came back from that and started talking to the management.
On Thursday, protesters tried to prevent Netanyahu from leaving the country by blocking roads. He was therefore taken to the airport by helicopter, where he boarded a plane for a planned visit to Berlin.
Israeli President Herzog spoke out against the plans for the first time this week. The reform of the judicial system, he says, is wrong, repressive and undermines democracy. Herzog said he is drafting a compromise proposal, but politicians on both sides of the spectrum have declined to join the talks.
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