Thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu’s legal reforms

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In the best way of a religious-nationalist coalition with a solid parliamentary majority, Netanyahu, now in his sixth term, wants to restrain the Supreme Court in what he described as restoring the balance of the three branches of government. .

Critics say the proposed reforms would undermine judicial independence, foster corruption, curtail minority rights and strip Israel’s court system of credibility to help clear up allegations of wrongdoing. of war abroad. Among those who oppose are the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the attorney general of the country.

After President Isaac Herzog called on polarized politicians to “turn down the heat” of the debates, the organizers of the demonstrations – held in three cities despite cold winter rains – sought to strike a note of national unity.

“Take an Israeli flag in one hand, an umbrella in the other, and go out to protect democracy and law in the State of Israel,” said former centrist defense minister Benny Gantz, who attended the rally of Tel Aviv but, like other opposition figures, he did not have to address it.

“We Are Preserving Our Shared Home,” read one protester’s placard. Netanyahu was guilty of a “legal putsch”, said another.

Israeli media put the attendance at around 80,000, with thousands more at protests in Jerusalem and Haifa.

The 73-year-old Prime Minister on Friday signaled flexibility on the reform plan, saying it would be implemented “with careful consideration while listening to all positions”.

Polls were divergent on public opinions of the reforms. Channel 13 TV last week found that 53% of Israelis were against changing the structure of court appointments while 35% were in favor. But Channel 14 TV on Thursday found 61% in favor and 35% against.

The critics of the Supreme Court say that it is bigger and not representative of the electorate. Its proponents call the court a means to bring equilibrium to a fractional society.

“Tens of thousands of people were in tonight’s demonstrations. In the election held here two and a half months ago, millions turned out,” tweeted Miki Zohar a senior lawmaker in Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party.

“We promised people to change, we promised governance, we promised reforms – and we will make good on that.”

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Christina Fincher)

By Dan Williams

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