Mass protests in Israel as controversial overhauls advanced
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Tens of thousands of Israelis on Saturday protested their far-right government’s plans to overhaul the legal system, three days after parliament advanced a bill that would enable lawmakers to overturn a Supreme Court decision with a simple majority.
The “Supreme Court override” bill’s approval in a preliminary vote in the Knesset was the latest step by Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition toward realizing the judicial overhaul that is steaming ahead despite calls for dialogue and consensus from American Jews and Israel’s president, and the weekly mass protests.
In addition to weakening the country’s highest court, the protesters say the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values and concentrate power with the ruling coalition in parliament. Netanyahu and his ruling coalition believe the court has had unchecked power for years.
For eight weeks, the weekly protests have gained momentum, with large sectors of Israeli society and businesses joining them. On Saturday, the main protest took place in the central city of Tel Aviv along numerous smaller demonstrations across the country.
The protesters held Israeli flags, flares, and posters with different messages against the judicial overhauls. “No Constitution, No Democracy,” said one placard. Some demonstrators stood behind a banner reading “They Shall Not Pass” and “We Shall Override,” referring to the vote.