On Saturday night, tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new administration’s plans to revamp the legal system, steps that detractors claim jeopardize the nation’s basic democratic principles.
According to police and reports in Israeli media, some 100,000 people were out protesting.
The event came after another one last week that attracted tens of thousands and served as an early protest against Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultraOrthodox cabinet, which is the most right-wing in Israeli history.
According to the government, a power disparity has given judges and government legal advisors excessive influence on legislation and governance.
Netanyahu has vowed to continue the reforms in the face of opposition.
The former prime minister and opposition leader Yair Lapid joined the demonstration and declared, “This is a rally to defend the country.” People came to this location today to defend their democracy.
“Every generation is worried. A demonstrator named Lior Student declared, “This is not a joke. “Democracy has been completely redefined here.”
In the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba, there were more demonstrations.
In addition to the protests, pressure had grown on Netanyahu’s administration when the nation’s attorney general requested that Netanyahu oust a crucial Cabinet member after the Supreme Court ruled that he could not serve in government due to a conviction for tax charges.
Although the court’s decision was anticipated to be heeded by Netanyahu, it only served to widen the country’s divide over the justice system and the authority of the courts.
Despite the protests, Netanyahu, facing a corruption investigation, vowed to move forward with the proposals for judicial reform earlier this week.
The revisions, according to critics, could either help Netanyahu avoid conviction in his corruption trial or ultimately end the prosecution.
One demonstrator asserted that she believes the court changes are protecting Netanyahu.
“The goal is to save just one person, and just one person—Mr. Netanyahu—from his trial, and that’s why I’m here,” the speaker said.
Netanyahu’s coalition faced a new challenge on Friday due to a disagreement among Cabinet members on demolishing an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank.
A pro-settlement Cabinet member had decided to postpone the eviction awaiting more consultations, but Netanyahu’s Likud party member and defense minister Yoav Galant agreed to remove the outpost.
Huge protests in Israel against Netanyahu’s plan to weaken the independence of the judiciary and thus weaken democracy. pic.twitter.com/n7x3Ui3qgc
— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) January 21, 2023