“Tens of thousands of Israeli protesters demonstrated against proposed legal reforms in Tel Aviv and other cities yesterday.
The demonstrators have been rallying weekly against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power in December at the head of a coalition with ultra-Orthodox Jewish and extreme-right allies.
The Israeli media estimated that 150,000 people attended Saturday’s protest in Tel Aviv, which was the 27th since the reform agenda was unveiled in January. The protest took place ahead of a vote on Monday in parliament on a key provision of the proposed overhaul.
The police did not give the number of demonstrators. Historian Yuval Noah Harari told the rally that “We must act against what the Netanyahu government is doing to our country and to the Israeli dream.” He added that “If the Netanyahu government does not stop, it will soon learn what happens when we get angry.”
Police used water cannon to disperse some 100 demonstrators who blocked a main highway in the coastal city. The government argues that judicial reform is necessary to ensure a better balance of power by giving politicians more power over the courts.
After unsuccessful talks with the opposition following Netanyahu’s late March announcement of a “pause” to allow for negotiations, the government is taking the offensive once again this week. Tomorrow will see the first reading of a bill aimed at excluding the judiciary’s right to rule on the “reasonableness” of government decisions. One of its potential effects would be on the appointment of ministers.
Netanyahu was forced to dismiss cabinet member Aryeh Deri in January after intervention by the Supreme Court over a previous tax evasion conviction.
Organizers have announced a day of protest for Tuesday. Amit Lev, 40, a tech executive, said: “If we don’t stop what is happening now, there’ll be no going back.”