In the 17th weekly demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, tens of thousands of Israelis protested proposals to overhaul the judiciary on Saturday.
The protests began earlier this year and will continue, according to organizers, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the massive protests want the proposed changes eliminated entirely.
In Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub, a main protest rally was attended by demonstrators brandishing a banner which read, “We are just getting started.” Smaller demonstrations were held in other parts of the country.
A video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv saw Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez lend support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters. “We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.
Protesters argue that the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, weakening a system of checks and balances, and placing authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.
They also claim that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in attempting to reshape the country’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.
The changes would weaken the Supreme Court, grant parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, the power to overturn its rulings, and restrict its capacity to review laws.
The protest was supported by the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sections of the Israeli community.
However, on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis supporting the legal changes gathered in Jerusalem to rally for the proposal.