"An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night
in what protesters described as a “fight for Israel’s destiny” over sweeping
judicial changes proposed by the new far-right government.
Israel’s longtime prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, returned to office last
month at the helm of a coalition of conservative and religious parties that
make up the most right-wing government in the country’s history.
The new administration has accused Israel’s supreme court of leftwing bias and
overstepping its authority. It is seeking to curb the court’s powers by
severely restricting its ability to overturn laws and government decisions and
giving the Knesset more control over judicial appointments.
The Tel Aviv protest, along with smaller demonstrations in Jerusalem, Haifa and
Beersheba, were sparked by fears that the far-reaching proposals undermine
democratic norms. Since Israel has no formal constitution, the supreme court
plays an important role in keeping government ministers in check.
Netanyahu – himself on trial on corruption charges, which he denies – has
defended the plans. His opponents say the proposed changes could help the prime
minister evade a conviction or even see the case dropped altogether.
Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapid, as well as
several other figures from across the country’s political spectrum, addressed
demonstrators in central Tel Aviv on Saturday as the crowd waved the blue and
white national flag and held placards reading “No to dictatorship”.
“We have here in the streets representatives of many groups who don’t usually
come out to protest, but they are here, even sworn rightwingers,” said one
speaker, the celebrated novelist David Grossman.
“This immensely diverse group is prepared to put aside its differences, and
fight this existential fight … In its 75th year, Israel is in a fateful
struggle for its character, for its democracy and for the status of its rule of
*** Xanni ***
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Manager, Serious Cybernetics