Thousands of people march in a protest against reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
22 January 2023

Tens of thousands march through Tel Aviv against judicial reforms

22 January 2023

Tens of thousands of Israelis were again out on the streets of Tel Aviv to protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to overhaul the judicial system.

Some sources said as many as 100,000 people joined the protest on Saturday night.

That followed another demonstration last week that also drew tens of thousands in an early challenge to Mr Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox government – the most right-wing in Israeli history.

Opponents of the judicial overhaul claim it puts the country’s democratic foundation at risk.

But the government says a power imbalance has given judges and government legal advisers too much sway over lawmaking and governance.

Mr Netanyahu has pledged to press on with the changes despite the opposition.

Protesters filled the streets of the city in the latest demonstration, raising Israeli flags and banners that read “The Supreme Court” and “Israel, We Have A Problem”.

Opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid was among them. He said: “This is a protest to defend the country. People came here today to protect their democracy.”

Fellow protester Lior Student said: “All generations are concerned. This is not a joke. This is a complete redefinition of democracy.”

Other protests took place in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.

In addition to the protests, pressure has built on Mr Netanyahu’s government after the country’s attorney general asked him to fire a key cabinet ally following a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from holding a government post because of a conviction of tax offences.

While Mr Netanyahu was expected to heed the court ruling, it only deepened the rift in the country over the judicial system and the power of the courts.

Opponents also say the judicial changes could help Mr Netanyahu evade conviction in his own corruption trial, or make the court case disappear altogether.

One protester said on Saturday: “The aim is to save only one person and one only – this is Mr Netanyahu, from his trial, and that’s why I’m here.”

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