Amid surge in violence, Israelis stage 14th consecutive week of protests against judicial overhaul.
Thousands of Israelis have come together for a weekly protest against the government’s judicial overhaul plans, despite concerns over security due to a rise in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paused his plans after public backlash against the proposal, which has united a large portion of the Israeli population in resistance against a series of bills aimed at reducing the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court.
The Tel Aviv protest, a commercial center of Israel, was located just under a mile from an attack on Friday causing the death of an Italian tourist and injury of five Italian and British citizens when a car drove into a tourist group. In another event, two British-Israeli women were fatally shot near a settlement in the West Bank.
The rise of violence in Israel and the West Bank has ignited fears of an even greater escalation while the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Jewish Passover, and Easter are taking place.
Organizers of the grassroots protest movement resisting the judicial overhaul called for people to attend Saturday’s planned protest, which marks a fourteenth consecutive week with tens of thousands attending.
They portrayed this anti-government protest as an act of solidarity with victims of Friday’s attacks as well as with Israelis living near Lebanon and Gaza borders who were recently affected by Palestinian rocket fire.
During the Tel Aviv protest, a moment of silence was held for the victims. Leaders of the protest movement argue that these overhaul plans have weakened Israel’s national security by disrupting the military and weakening the country’s position against its enemies.
Although Netanyahu’s announcement of postponing the proposed changes in Israel’s legal system appeared to calm tensions which fueled months of protests, it has failed to address crucial issues that have caused division within the nation.
Netanyahu claims that he will revive the plan if talks with the opposition party do not lead to a compromise.
The proposed plans would allow Netanyahu and his allies’ to have the final say in appointing judges and enable the parliament, under his allies’ control, to overrule Supreme Court decisions and limit the courts’ ability to review laws.
Supporters of Netanyahu believe that such reforms are necessary in curbing unelected judges’ powers.
However, opponents believe that these changes would destroy the balances of power and place too much authority in Netanyahu’s and his allies’ hands, while also questioning Netanyahu’s conflict of interest as he is being investigated for corruption charges.