Another Saturday of protests in Israel. According to police estimates, around 100,000 people took to the streets in two separate places in Tel Aviv to protest against the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu for his announced reform of the judicial system. For the third consecutive Saturday, thousands of people gathered between the central Habima Square (where there were about 80,000 last week) and Viale Kaplan, next to the Defense Ministry complex.
This time, however, the leaders of the opposition are also taking part in the demonstration: the former prime minister Yair Lapidformer defense ministers Benny Gantz e Moshe Yaalon. “This – said Lapid – is a demonstration in support of Israel. The people who have come here want to defend democracy, its courts, the idea of coexistence and common welfare. We will not give up”.
The disputed justice reform
Among the most widespread slogans are those in defense of the Supreme Court of Israel, considered a civil bulwark of society, which the government wants to limit in its powers. Netanyahu dismissed the protests as a refusal by left-wing opponents to accept last November’s election results, which produced one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history.
Protesters say the future of Israeli democracy is at stake if the government’s plans come to fruition because they would strengthen executive control over judicial appointments and limit the powers of the Supreme Court by limiting minority rights.
Another slogan reads: ‘Democracy does not end with elections’. In the placards one of the most depicted politicians is Arieh Until, leader of the orthodox Shas party, minister of the Netanyahu government rejected by the Supreme Court for his convictions for tax crimes. Similar demonstrations are underway in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheva with Israeli flags, peace flags and even some Palestinian flags.