Tens of thousands of Israelis have rallied in Tel Aviv and other cities to protest judicial overhaul plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The protests, now in their 22nd week, continued on Saturday despite Netanyahu’s announcement in March that the contentious legal proposals were being put on hold.
Netanyahu’s government, a coalition between his Likud party and extreme-right as well as ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, argues the proposed changes are needed to rebalance powers between legislators and the judiciary. Critics say it will grant the government unrestrained power and upend the country’s system of checks and balances. The plan would weaken the judiciary and limit judicial oversight on laws and government decisions, which critics say directly threatens civil rights as well as the rights of minorities and marginalized groups.
In the central city of Tel Aviv, some 100,000 people waved Israeli flags, lit torches, and beat drums, according to Israeli media. They held a banner with the Hebrew words ‘The US is boycotting Bibi and Iran is galloping towards a bomb! The judicial overhaul is an existential threat!’. Some protesters also expressed anger at the police for their crackdown on Friday, when they arrested dozens of demonstrators who blocked roads near Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.
Protests have continued even though the government and opposition are in talks to find a compromise on the plan.