Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in several Israeli cities to protest against the controversial judicial reform. In the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv, there was a major rally on the ninth Saturday evening, according to media reports, around 160,000 demonstrators took part. There were also protests in other cities such as Haifa and Netanya.
Police chief Kobi Schabtai stressed that the main road connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would not be allowed to be blocked again. A protest in Tel Aviv on Wednesday resulted in violent confrontations, and several demonstrators were injured. There were complaints of excessive police violence.
With a simple parliamentary majority against the Supreme Court
The reform of the judiciary is progressing despite violent protests from large parts of the population. According to plans by the right-wing religious government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, parliament should in future be able to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court with a simple majority. In addition, politicians should be given more influence in the appointment of judges.
The proposed law could also play into the head of government's hands in a corruption trial that has been going on against Netanyahu for some time. Netanyahu caused outrage on Wednesday when he drew a comparison between anti-reform demonstrators and violent settlers who wreaked havoc after an attack in the Palestinian city of Howara.
Critics warn against the path to dictatorship
Critics see the reform as a threat to the separation of powers and warn that Israel could turn into a dictatorship. The government, on the other hand, argues that the Supreme Court currently exercises too much political influence.
The demonstrations against the reform frequently feature women in long red mantles and white bonnets, disguised as characters from the television series "The Handmaid's Tale". First published in 1985, Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Report" is a dystopian story about a dictatorship in which women in particular are oppressed. With the disguise, the demonstrators express their fear that Israel could go in such a political direction in the course of weakening the judiciary.