Thousands of Israelis in new protests against judicial reforms

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the proposed overhaul in late March but opponents want it scrapped.

Israel protest
Tens of thousands of Israeli protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system [Oded Balilty/AP Photo]

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Israel to protest against the government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to pause the contentious proposals.

The protests came on the heels of a downgrade of Israel’s credit rating by US rating agency Moody’s. The agency shifted the country’s position from positive to stable Friday, signaling the potential for an economic uproar against the government’s proposals.

More than 100,000 people participated in the main demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday, according to Israeli broadcaster Channel 12, and smaller demonstrations took place across the country. Counterprotests were also planned in several locations.

Protest organisers, who have held these weekly protests for more than three months, aim to maintain momentum and increase pressure on Netanyahu and his government until the proposed changes are scrapped.

Facing opposition from civil society, parts of the army and even within his own cabinet, Netanyahu paused the overhaul plans in late March, saying he wanted “to avoid civil war”.

The plan would give Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, and his allies in Israel’s most hardline government the final say in appointing the nation’s judges.

Israel protest
Tens of thousands took part in the Tel Aviv protest [Ariel Schalit/AP Photo]

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.

Opponents have said it will destroy a system of checks and balances by concentrating power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies in parliament.

They also have said that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest at a time when he is on trial.

Israel’s government dismissed Moody’s credit rating Saturday.

“Israel’s economy is stable and solid and with God’s help will remain so,” Netanyahu and his finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said in a joint statement.

Source: News Agencies