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Post: Israelis rally ahead of crucial week for judicial reform bill


Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv against a controversial plan to reform the court system, with Defense Minister Yoav Galant calling on the government to freeze the project.

The latest demonstration in the city, Israel’s commercial hub, came days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to go ahead with the amendment despite growing international concern.

But Israel’s defense minister said on Saturday: “We have to suspend the legislative mechanism” for a month. “One side’s victory on city streets or in the halls of the Knesset is the loss of the State of Israel,” he said in a speech.

Gallant called for the bill to be frozen while Israeli lawmakers plan to vote next week on key articles of the judicial reform bill, particularly the mechanism for appointing judges.

“We are here today to assert ourselves and add our voices to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Israelis who support the values ​​on which this country was founded,” said Daniel Nisman, a senior official. – The technological sector, which implies democracy. “That’s all we hope he (Netanyahu) will bring us back,” Nisman, 36, told AFP.

The demonstrations began in January, after the governing coalition announced a package of reforms that the government says are necessary to rebalance the powers of the state.

Transformation into “dictatorship”?

But protester Daphne Oren-Magiador, 41, said the move risks “turning the country into a dictatorship”. A Jerusalem historian confirmed that “the laws currently being passed are laws designed to make the ruling government single and to undermine (the principle of) separation of powers.”

The protests took place near President Isaac Herzog’s residence in Jerusalem, where protester Harriet Scheer, 80, who carried the flag, said the changes would be “very harmful to people in the camps, lesbians, gays and Arabs”. It will not be good for the country if they (politicians) can bypass the court. “Supreme”.

Opponents of the bill, which aims to strengthen the power of elected officials over the judiciary, see it as a threat to democracy in the Jewish state and have drawn criticism outside Israel, particularly the United States.

“end of division”

And on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said that US President Joe Biden had expressed US concerns about these proposals, proposals to reform the judicial system.

Repeated demonstrations had already attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators, Israeli media estimated, with an AFP correspondent reporting seeing thousands of demonstrators gathering in Tel Aviv after Saturday afternoon.

“More and more Israelis are waking up,” said Josh Drill, spokesman for the movement’s organizing movement. “We will not live in a dictatorship,” added Drel, 26. “Even going through a judicial coup, this protest movement continues.

Opponents of the bill, which aims to strengthen the power of elected officials over the judiciary, see it as a threat to democracy in the Jewish state and have drawn criticism outside Israel, particularly the United States.

In London, where Netanyahu met his British counterpart Rishi Sunak on Friday, there were demonstrations against the Israeli prime minister, involving hundreds of demonstrators. Sunak explained during the meeting that “the importance of respecting the democratic values ​​on which relations between the two countries are based, including the judicial reform project in Israel”, according to his spokesperson.

Israeli lawmakers are expected to vote next week on key provisions of the proposed judicial reform bill, in particular the mechanism for appointing judges. Netanyahu stressed on Thursday that the legislation “does not impose control on the judiciary, but creates balance and diversity in it.”

To ensure greater support during the vote, changes were made at the committee level in recent days. Netanyahu confirmed that the text will be put to a vote for approval in the plenary “next week”.

“I’ll do my best”

However, the opposition ruled out supporting any wording of the bill before its legislative machinery was fully suspended. It has been announced that there will be demonstrations for a week in various parts of the country, especially near the ministers’ houses and in front of Parliament on Wednesday.

In his televised address on Thursday, Netanyahu said: “I will do everything I can to calm things down and end the divide between the people.” However, he underlined that his government remains “determined to face democratic change with a sense of responsibility and to move forward in restoring the fair balance of powers”.

On Friday, Israeli government legal adviser Eli Bahrav Mayara described the prime minister’s intervention in a judicial reform bill that is dividing the country as “illegal” amid his ongoing trial on corruption charges.

He cited a previous court decision stating that an indicted prime minister cannot take action that raises concerns of conflict of interest.

Source: EuroNews

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