Mass Protests Across Israel as Lawmakers Set to Vote on Judicial Reform
by i24 News
i24 News – Mass demonstrations against the judicial reform were held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Monday, while Israeli lawmakers were set to vote in a first reading on the debated judicial reform in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).
Measures expected to be passed today include abolishing the High Court’s ability to overrule certain Knesset or government decisions, and giving politicians greater weight in judicial appointments. “
A large rally was held in front of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) building in Jerusalem, with the organizers calling for a “national day of protest.”
Earlier this morning, demonstrators blocked the home of two coalition members, including that of Simcha Rothman from the Religious Zionism party, who heads the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and Tali Gottlieb of the Likud party, who has a child with special needs. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid condemned the move saying it was not acceptable to block the lawmaker and her daughter in the house.
“When demonstrators prevent public representatives from coming and voting in the Knesset, and make an autistic girl miserable, it’s not a legitimate protest,” Netanyahu said, urging police “to act immediately.”
“This is not our way. This is not a way of protest,” Lapid wrote on Twitter, sending Gottlieb’s daughter “a hug.”
Critics of the reform believe the measures will damage Israel’s democracy while supporters say it will rebalance the relationship between judges and politicians in favor of democratically elected lawmakers. Organizers of the protest outside the Knesset say they expect 30,000 people to show up, but authorities estimate the number to be much higher.
Protesters begin to gather in Tel Aviv, with tens of thousands expected to turn out across the country, as the Israeli Parliament is set to begin the voting process on the hotly debated judicial reform bills pic.twitter.com/3irguFH564
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 20, 2023
Last week, a demonstration in Jerusalem on the same reform brought together some 70,000 participants. From 4 p.m., lawmakers will consider a first reading bill that would give the ruling coalition control of the Judicial Appointments Commission, which chooses new High Court justices.
The debate over the reform has inflamed tensions on both sides of the political spectrum. Protest organizers said “with the passage of the dictator’s bill, the protests will intensify.” Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, for his part, called on Israelis to put an end to all rhetoric inciting violence.
“The situation we find ourselves in keeps me awake at night. We are on a steep slope of inflammatory arguments, of people writing things without considering the impact they may have on the other party,” Shabtai said on Channel 12. “It’s an opportunity to tell everyone to breathe, calm down, chat, and not get violent in word or deed.”