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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Tel Aviv: Israel: Tens of thousands demonstrate against judicial reform

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Israel’s new ultra-right government wants to weaken the Supreme Court with a reform. Protests are now raging in several cities.

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Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. The protests are primarily directed against Justice Minister Jariv Levin’s plans to specifically weaken the country’s judicial system. It was the largest demonstration to date against the new government, which was sworn in at the end of December. Protests also took place in Haifa and Jerusalem.

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The mass rally in Tel Aviv, in which around 80,000 people took part, according to media reports, began in the city center on the square in front of the Habima National Theater. The demonstrators then marched through the streets waving blue and white Israeli flags. “Democracy,” they chanted again and again. “The state is not your toy,” read one poster.

Netanyahu’s government plans far-reaching reforms in the judicial system. A majority in parliament should therefore be able to pass a law even if the Supreme Court considers it to be in violation of the Basic Law. Attorney General Levin also wants to change the composition of the panel that appoints judges. He accuses the Supreme Court of excessive interference in political decisions.

In an unusually sharply worded speech, the head of Israel’s highest court, Esther Chajut, warned of a “deadly blow” to the independence of judges on Thursday. After the planned reforms, the country’s democratic identity would be completely distorted, she said. Levin then accused Chayut of being on the side of the opposition.

At the beginning of the week, Israel’s right-wing extremist police minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced crackdowns on demonstrators.

The government of re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most right-wing government Israel has ever had. Right-wing extremist politicians are also represented for the first time.

Source: Stern

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