Protesters continue to march through the streets as the Israeli government pushes through with a contentious court overhaul.
On Thursday, Israeli lawmakers adopted yet another contentious piece of legislation that would defend Benjamin Netanyahu from being found unfit for office by the attorney general.
The vote occurred only hours before Israelis were scheduled to march for the eleventh consecutive week as part of national demonstrations to halt what many see to be a judicial coup.
A slew of measures that would give Netanyahu’s far-right administration more power over the judiciary, including the ability to select justices and overrule the nation’s Supreme Court, are getting closer to being passed.
There would only be two ways to remove the prime minister following today’s vote in parliament. The first would be if they declared themselves to be mentally or physically unfit for the position. The second would occur if they were found unfit by three-quarters of their cabinet.
In Israel, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest what they saw as the nation’s descent into autocracy.
Many of the demonstrators fought with police and blocked roads. In Tel Aviv alone, at least 40 people were detained.
Shai Harel, a protester blocking the Ayalon highway, a significant route connecting Tel Aviv to Israel’s coast, told reporters that he was unfazed by the forceful police response.
“The water cannons, arrests, and police violence just make me want to protest even more, and the other protesters will feel the same way. Harel stated, “I was at a protest in Jerusalem in the morning, now I’m in Tel Aviv, and I will go to a protest in the Orthodox town of Bnei Brak in the evening.”
He pointed to a shampoo bottle in his bag and said, I’m ready for the canons to shower me once more.
The far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had earlier called the protesters anarchists and instructed the police to disperse the gatherings.
Water cannons were used for the first time in recent weeks, and police on horseback fired at protesters.
As Ben-Gvir’s pressure increases, the police have issued a warning to demonstrators that they will not permit major roads to be blocked.
Another protester, Efrat Safran, told reporters: Ben-Gvir is unaware that the use of water cannons and the arrest of the movement’s leaders will not dissuade people; rather, the opposite will occur. Fire will consume the protest.
“As part of the government’s plans, the laws that are being passed in parliament will only encourage more people to take to the streets. This administration won’t tune in so they will simply get more fights,” Safran said.
Country in Chaos
Due to concerns regarding the country’s ongoing tensions, a major international conference on behavioral economics scheduled for May at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been postponed.
Participants received a letter from the event’s organizers stating that “it wouldn’t be appropriate to hold the conference amid this turmoil” due to the country’s ongoing protests and tensions.
The political crisis in Israel has pitted Netanyahu’s far-right government against the country’s academic and business elite, civil society, former government ministers, and military leaders.
Israel’s judicial reforms could help Netanyahu avoid being found guilty of corruption or have his case dismissed. Netanyahu has publicly criticized the justice system, claiming that it is biased against him, ever since he was indicted in 2019.
The dissenters are hitting out at an arrangement that would enable parliament to supersede the High Court through a basic larger part vote, and true command over court candidates.
Additionally, it would restrict the court’s ability to oppose legislation that violates civil and human rights.