HomeWorldMass protests against Israeli judicial reform enter tenth week

Mass protests against Israeli judicial reform enter tenth week

TEL AVIV, March 11 (Reuters) – Israelis filled the city’s streets on Saturday in nationwide demonstrations, now in their 10th week, against the far-right government’s plans to limit the powers of the Supreme Court, which Critics view it as a threat to judicial independence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says his goal is to balance the branches of government, wields a parliamentary majority along with his religious nationalist coalition allies.

As the reforms move toward ratification, the protests have intensified. The shekel has slipped. Some military reservists have threatened not to heed summons orders. President Isaac Herzog has called for the reform to be postponed and for dialogue to take place.

“It is not a judicial reform. It is a revolution that (is) turning Israel into a total dictatorship and I want Israel to remain a democracy for my children,” said Tamir Guytsabri, 58, among tens of thousands of protesters who gathered in downtown Tel Aviv.

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The protests were mostly peaceful, although Reuters witnessed some injuries and arrests among protesters as police intervened against attempts to block traffic.

The national police chief, Inspector General Yaacov Shabtai, made a rare televised announcement backing out of plans to reassign the Tel Aviv police chief, which some feared foreshadowed plans to further crack down on protests.

The now-deferred reassignment was part of a scheduled rotation, Shabtai said, adding that police would continue to safeguard demonstrations kept within legal limits and “will not bow to any political pressure on the matter.”

Netanyahu, who returned to office for a sixth term at the end of December, says the demonstrations are aimed at ousting him. He is on trial in three corruption cases and denies any wrongdoing.

“I am here to protest against the law reform and to protest against our prime minister, whom we call the ‘Crime Minister,'” said protester Miri Lahat, 63.

Written by Dan Williams; Edited by John Stonestreet

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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