Sunday, June 23, 2024

Mass protests held against Israeli PM’s judicial overhaul plan for 27th week, clashes reported

Israeli forces clashed with demonstrators as tens of thousands held massive rallies against the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right cabinet for the 27th week.

Thousands-strong protests against the regime’s extremist cabinet and its policies, including Netanyahu’s unpopular judicial overhaul plan, were held in the coastal city of Tel Aviv and elsewhere across the occupied territories on Saturday.

Israeli media described the protest in Tel Aviv as the largest to throng the city in weeks. While the regime’s media put the number of protesters in Tel Aviv at nearly 150,000, the organizers said nearly 180,000 had taken part.

Protesters in Tel Aviv blocked the Ayalon Highway at several locations, before the regime’s forces used a water cannon to disperse them.

Israeli authorities said two people were detained in Tel Aviv for “disorderly conduct,” as dozens of protesters blocked the vehicle that was taking the detainees from the scene.

Hundreds of protesters also gathered outside the home of Israel’s minister of military affairs, Yoav Gallant, in the northern town of Amikam.

During a rally against the judicial overhaul in the central city of Herzliya, protesters set fire to tires, blocking a number of streets. Israeli forces detained one person for lighting a flare.

Tens of thousands of protesters held similar rallies in other cities across the occupied territories.

Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan seeks to scrap a number of the Israeli Supreme Court’s powers to make it incapable of overriding the decisions made by the far-right cabinet.

It also seeks to give sweeping powers to the political elite in the process of selecting judges to the court.

Faced with overwhelming protests and a wave of industrial actions, Netanyahu paused the scheme in late March to enable talks on the issue.

However, deeming the negotiations to be pointless last month, he re-launched his bid to push through with the reform package, claiming that he has come up with new proposals, which are more moderate.

Those in favor of the scheme allege that it introduces some balance in the power that is wielded by different branches of the regime. Its opponents, however, say upon ratification, the plan would empower the ruling class to act in a more authoritarian fashion.

On Monday, the Knesset is expected to hold the first of three votes on the first new bill.

Protest leaders say they are planning to intensify demonstrations on Tuesday.

“If the Netanyahu’s government does not stop, it will soon learn what happens when we get angry,” a protester was quoted by AFP as saying.

“If we don’t stop what is happening now, there’ll be no going back,” another protester stated, adding the draft law that is to be introduced on Monday “is part of a series of laws, each of which allows the passage of the other.”

“If this law passes, we will not be able to live as we wish. I’m not at peace right now about our future here,” said another protester.

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