In addition to protesting the proposed settlement expansion in the West Bank, demonstrations were held in 20 cities across Israel.
For the fifth week running, tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the contentious legal reforms that Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has been promoting. On Saturday, throngs of individuals waving blue and white Israeli flags and holding signs denouncing the new administration as a “threat to world peace” crowded the city’s main Kaplan Street.
Since the new prime minister’s government, dubbed the most rightwing in Israel‘s history, took office in late December, the protests have become a regular occurrence on Saturday evenings. Tens of thousands gathered in Tel Aviv alone, according to media reports from 20 cities across the country.
In a video that was shared on social media, the former Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid, who was a part of the crowd in Haifa, said, we will save our nation because we don’t want to live in a democracy. Following the November elections, Netanyahu led a coalition with extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties to regain power.
Israel’s parliament, which has 120 members, would be able to overturn any supreme court decision with a simple majority of 61. Additionally, the method by which judges are appointed would be altered by the proposed reforms, giving politicians more control.
The LGBTQ+ community has been concerned by the government’s announcement of its intention to implement social reforms and a policy of settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. Dania Shwartz, 44, of Ramat Gan, told AFP that protesters were “reclaiming” the Israeli flag among the demonstrations.
She stated, “If you look around, there are a lot of Israeli flags, and the Israeli flag was a symbol of the right for many years.” “We are patriots and want this nation to continue.” We all own the Israeli flags; being right or left has nothing to do with this.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Shwartz also expressed concern that “this new government will try to pass laws that will affect my children.” She said, referring to one of Netanyahu’s coalition partners who is notoriously anti-gay, “For example, the Noam party wants to delegitimize families like ours and it’s very scary.”
According to a letter that was made public on Thursday, Israel’s attorney general has instructed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to participate in his government’s proposal to overhaul the country’s judicial system because doing so would create a conflict of interest regarding the prime minister’s corruption trial.
Even though public outcry has grown, Netanyahu’s far-right government has made reforming the legal system a central part of its legislative agenda. It has moved forward with plans to give politicians less judicial control over policymaking and weaken the supreme court.
Gali Baharav-Miara, the office of the attorney general, also issued her legal opinion regarding the proposed changes. She stated that they would give the executive and legislature “broad and effectively unlimited authority” and would “a serious blow to the system of checks and balances” in Israel’s government.