Approximately 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night in response to the new far-right government’s proposal for sweeping judicial reforms.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longtime prime minister, returned to office last month at the forefront of the most right-wing government in the country’s history, a coalition of conservative and religious parties.
The new administration has charged the Israeli supreme court with prejudice toward the left and exceeding its authority. It seeks to limit the Supreme Court’s authority by drastically limiting its ability to overturn laws and government decisions and by granting the Knesset greater control over judicial appointments.
The Tel Aviv demonstration, along with smaller ones in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba, was prompted by concerns that the far-reaching proposals would undermine democratic norms. Given that Israel lacks a formal constitution, the supreme court plays a crucial role in restraining government ministers.
Netanyahu, who denies corruption allegations against himself, has defended the plans. His adversaries assert that the proposed modifications could help the prime minister avoid conviction or even have the case dismissed.
The Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapid, as well as a number of other political figures from across the country, addressed demonstrators in central Tel Aviv on Saturday, as the audience waved the blue and white Israeli flag and carried signs reading “No to dictatorship.”
Similar demonstrations have occurred in recent weeks, including one that attracted 80,000 people to Tel Aviv last weekend, nationwide student protests, and a demonstration outside a Tel Aviv courthouse.