Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday night for the 10th consecutive week of protests against a controversial plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to overhaul the country’s judicial system.
The protesters, who gathered in at least 95 different locations across Israel, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashdod, and Haifa, chanted slogans such as “Save the democracy”, “Bibi go home”, and “The people demand justice”. They also waved Israeli flags and signs calling for the protection of the Supreme Court and the rule of law.
The judicial reform plan, which was approved by the cabinet in January and is expected to face a preliminary vote in the parliament on Monday, would give politicians greater power over appointing judges and limit the court’s ability to strike down laws that violate human rights or international treaties. The plan has been widely criticized by legal experts, civil society groups, opposition parties, and even some members of Netanyahu’s own coalition, who see it as an attempt to undermine the independence and integrity of the judiciary and to shield Netanyahu from corruption charges.
Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009 and is facing trial on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, has denied any ulterior motives behind the reform plan and has accused his critics of being part of a “left-wing conspiracy” to oust him from power. He has also claimed that the reform plan is necessary to restore balance and accountability to the judicial system, which he says has become too activist and interventionist.
The protesters have vowed to continue their demonstrations until the judicial reform plan is withdrawn or defeated in the parliament. They have also called for new elections and for Netanyahu to resign or step aside until his trial is over. Some analysts have suggested that the protests could pose a serious challenge to Netanyahu’s political survival and could trigger a crisis within his fragile coalition.