Israeli Protesters Rally Against Judicial Reform Plan


The Israeli government’s plans to weaken the Supreme Court have sparked widespread outrage and protests across the country. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Tel Aviv and other cities to express their opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and its divisive plan to overhaul the judicial system.

At Saturday’s protest in Tel Aviv, crowds of Israelis held banners with the words “Crime Minister” overlaid on Netanyahu’s face. This was the latest in a series of weekly actions since the start of the year. The government’s plans to weaken the Supreme Court have been seen as an assault on the country’s system of checks and balances and a threat to its democracy.

Sheila Katz, head of the National Council of Jewish Women, spoke at the rally in central Tel Aviv, saying, “This is not about so-called judicial reform, it’s about democracy. In order for your sacred courts to protect the rights of all people, they must remain independent from politics.”

Protests last month brought Israeli cities to a standstill and threatened to shut down the economy, compelling Netanyahu to delay the judicial reform plan in hopes of finding a compromise. However, protesters have continued to demand that the overhaul be scrapped altogether.

The plan would give Netanyahu and his partners in Israel’s most hardline coalition in its history the final say in appointing the nation’s judges. It would also give parliament, which is controlled by his allies, authority to overturn Supreme Court decisions and limit the court’s ability to review laws.

Many people who came to the protest with their children expressed their worry for future generations. They believe that what is going on right now with the overhaul plan is a real danger to democracy in Israel. If passed, they fear it will push the country towards autocracy.

The protests have galvanized people across Israeli society. Thousands of officers in elite reserve units of the military have said they will refuse to report for duty. High-tech business leaders and the security establishment have come out against the proposal. Trade unions have called for a general strike.

Even the United States, Israel’s most crucial ally, has publicly rebuffed Netanyahu, with President Joe Biden telling him that he “cannot continue down this road.” The international community is watching closely as Israel’s democracy hangs in the balance.