Tens of thousands are protesting against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms in Tel Aviv and other places for the seventh week.
According to reports, many protesters were said to have assembled in Haifa, Netanya, Kfar Saba, and Beersheva to protest the measures.
As opposition leader Yair Lapid opposed in Netanya, National Unity leader Benny Gantz joined demonstrators in Kfar Saba.
Protesters carried a sizable copy of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv as they marched against the reforms. Israel will be a Jewish state, which is mentioned in the declaration of independence 11 times, yet it is not said once that it would be a democratic state.
Another protester wore shackles to represent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated legal troubles.
In Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, scores of women are spotted dressed up as handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale” about a fictitious future society that oppresses women and forces them to be handmaids of males.
The women fear that the judicial reforms could roll back feminist rights in Israel, with the courts unable to protect those rights effectively.
Hundreds of right-wing protesters are also pushing for debate about the government’s plans while demonstrating in Jerusalem. Protesters hoisted signs reading, “Right-wing in favor of negotiations.”
Yoram Cohen, a former Shin Bet director, said during his speech at the protest that “the reform would change the face of the country.”
Cohen, a pious Jew and right-winger continued, “It is not to better the judicial system but to negate it.”
“The court and legal advisors are our safety belt. Although it occasionally causes discomfort and pressure, it saves lives.
“The divisiveness that the national debate on the reform has brought about keeps me up at night. Cohen cautions that passing the change as it is now—by force and without consultation with all facets of society—will be disastrous.
The Biden administration has reportedly instructed Netanyahu to “pump the brakes” on the court reforms, according to US ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides in a podcast recorded on Saturday, according to Hebrew media.
“That’s what we’re doing now. As I do with my children, we’re telling the prime minister. Put the brakes on. Get the parties together, take your time, and try to reach an agreement.
Nides said, “it’s complicated; they’re trying to move things way too fast” during an interview with former top Obama adviser David Axelrod on The Axe Files podcast. However, he acknowledged that the US could not instruct Israel on choosing its supreme court.
Women dressing as “Handmaids” (from Handmaid’s Tale”) at mass demonstration in Israel against the government’s judicial overhaul – clear message to the ultra-orthodox parties in the government https://t.co/79buKtLXbz
— Jotam Confino (@mrconfino) February 18, 2023