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HomeNationalIsraelis protested against Netanyahu's justice reforms for the 11th weekAchi News

Israelis protested against Netanyahu’s justice reforms for the 11th weekAchi News

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Israelis protested against Netanyahu’s justice reforms for the 11th week

Israelis gathered in towns and cities across the country for the 11th consecutive week of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s judicial reform plan.

The opposition fears that the reform, which is moving through parliament and is supposed to increase the power of politicians over the courts, is a threat to Israeli democracy.

In Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, thousands of demonstrators waved the blue and white Israeli flag as well as the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community.

The demonstrators blocked roads as they marched through the city center. “Saving Democracy!” Says an article held high by the people.

An AFP photographer saw people gather at a pro-government protest in central Tel Aviv, with some holding banners reading “rebel leftists”.

“I was worried not about myself, but about my daughters and grandchildren,” said Naama Mazor, 64, a retiree from Herzliya who joined the main rally in Tel Aviv.

“We want Israel to be democratic and liberal, Jewish but libertarian. We are worried that it could become a dictatorship,” she said.

“There is no such thing as a half-democracy. We are either a democracy or a dictatorship. There is nothing in between.”

Sagiv Golan, 46, from Tel Aviv, said the government is “trying to destroy civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and anything that democracy stands for… We want to show the voice of democracy.”

Addressing protesters in Ashdod, opposition leader Yair Lapid blamed the government for rejecting the deal.

“They don’t want negotiations…they want to legislate and turn Israel into an undemocratic state,” he said.

Israeli media reported that tens of thousands of protesters turned out in more than 100 cities and towns, including Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba.

A 57-year-old man was arrested for allegedly driving into a group of protesters in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, a police spokesman said, adding that one person was hospitalized.

Since Netanyahu’s government announced the reforms in January, days after taking office, large-scale demonstrations have been held regularly across Israel.

Opponents of the package accused Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges he denies, of using the amendment to try to overturn a possible conviction against him. The Prime Minister denied the allegations.

President Isaac Herzog, who expressed concern about the growing rift in Israeli society, proposed a deal on Wednesday, but the government immediately rejected it.

“Anyone who thinks that real civil war, in human life, is a line we can’t reach, doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Herzog said.

Leaders of the opposition parties said in a joint press conference on Thursday that they support Herzog’s statement. “The offer is not perfect,” former Prime Minister Lapid said at the time. “It is not what we want, but a fair agreement that allows us to live together.”

The ruling coalition, which includes ultra-Orthodox Jews and far-right parties, argues that the proposed reforms are necessary to redress the balance of power between elected representatives and Israel’s highest court.

After Herzog’s announcement, Netanyahu called it a “one-sided deal,” saying the “key points” “only maintain the status quo and do not bring about the desired balance between powers.”

Among other things, the amendment would allow lawmakers to overturn Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority vote.

Other proposals would give the government more weight in the committee that selects judges and deny the Supreme Court its right to overturn any amendments to Israel’s mock constitution, the so-called Basic Laws.

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