In opposition to the proposed amendments, thousands of Israelis demonstrated outside of parliament, according to critics.
Thousands of protesters are demonstrating in front of the Israeli parliament as lawmakers debate a bill that would give politicians more control over who chooses judges.
Protests have been widespread in response to the plans, which would give right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more control over appointments to the Supreme Court bench. Numerous protesters carried out by posters condemning what they perceived as an assault on the country’s democratic institutions. Shame! Shame!” They yelled. “Save Israel Democracy” and “The whole world is watching” were printed on some of the placards.
Around the country, there were additional demonstrations outside of schools. After a raucous start to the meeting in which at least three opposition lawmakers were thrown out forcibly amid cries of “shame, shame,” the Knesset Constitution Committee decided to send the plan’s first chapter to the plenum for a first reading.
Before being led out, Idan Roll of the center-right Yesh Atid party told the hard-right Religious Zionism bloc panel chairman Simcha Rothman, “You will burn up the country.” According to Netanyahu, who is currently being tried on corruption charges that he denies, the changes are necessary to restrain activist judges who have exceeded their authority to interfere in politics.
By weakening the courts, giving the executive unchecked power, and putting civil liberties and human rights in jeopardy, critics claim that they run the risk of destroying Israel’s democratic checks and balances system. On Monday morning, the trains from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem were jam-packed with people, many of whom were carrying Israeli flags and signs of protest to attend the planned demonstrations outside the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and other locations across the country.
Local media reported that employees were granted permission to join the nationwide strikes by a number of businesses, including law firms and tech startups. In an editorial, Haaretz, a local English newspaper, stated that the government was “doing everything it can to sabotage these protests.”
According to Haaretz, Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Kisch stated that absent teachers “won’t be paid and absent students will be deemed truants.” It went on to say that, “despite the difficulties and dangers, only large-scale public participation in both the demonstration and the strike can alter the path of destruction which the government is marching.”
Israel was “on the verge of legal and social collapse,” President Isaac Herzog stated in a rare televised appeal for consensus on Sunday evening. Herzog made the following statement: “I am appealing to you with a request not to introduce the bill for its first reading.”
In comments that were published on Sunday by The New York Times, President Joe Biden of the United States stated that an independent judiciary was one of the pillars upon which both the United States and Israel’s democracies were built. He urged Netanyahu to reach a consensus before enacting significant changes.