Massive protests erupt in Israel as judicial reform advances, threatening democracy


Tens of thousands of Israelis flooded the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday to protest against the advancing judicial reforms, which they argue pose a significant threat to the democratic fabric of the country.

The demonstrations, marking the 28th consecutive weekend of protests since the reform agenda was introduced in January, come in response to the recent parliamentary approval of a bill in its initial reading. This legislation aims to curtail the “reasonability” clause, a provision that grants the judiciary the power to strike down government decisions. Additionally, the proposed reforms would grant the government increased influence in the appointment of judges.

“This is a battle for the country. We want to preserve Israel’s democratic nature, and we will not allow dictatorial laws to pass here,” expressed Nili Elezra, a 54-year-old protester, in an interview with AFP. Elezra believes that implementing these laws would have detrimental effects on Israel’s economic and global standing. She added, “Things will turn for the worse. People are already leaving, financial losses are mounting, investors are fleeing, and the international community is becoming increasingly disillusioned with our current situation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously ordered a temporary halt to the reforms in March following fierce opposition and widespread international criticism, including remarks from US President Joe Biden. The pause was intended to facilitate discussions and negotiations on the proposed changes. However, these cross-party dialogues failed to reach a consensus, leading to the resumption of the reform agenda.

Elad Ziv, a 45-year-old programmer, emphasized the critical importance of the upcoming weeks in halting the progression of the legal reforms. “We have two and a half weeks until the end of the parliament’s summer session, and we must prevent their passage. Otherwise, Israel will deteriorate further,” Ziv stated during an interview with AFP.

Although the weekly protests have not yet succeeded in impeding the coalition’s legislative plans, they have provided substantial support to individuals within the technology sector and military reservists who oppose the government’s ambitions. “We can observe the positive impact of the protests in bolstering the morale of those who are fighting,” Ziv remarked. “The sheer numbers participating in the demonstrations make a difference.”

As the Israeli public remains steadfast in their opposition to the proposed judicial reforms, the fate of the legislation hangs in the balance. The ongoing protests serve as a powerful reminder of the citizens’ commitment to preserving Israel’s democratic principles, while the government faces mounting pressure to reconsider its course of action.

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