Israelis keep up protests against halted judicial reforms

Israelis protested in Tel Aviv and other cities for a 24th straight week against the government’s judicial reform plans, days after opposition leaders abandoned negotiations on the controversial reform.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government’s proposals would curtail the authority of the Supreme Court and give politicians greater powers over the selection of judges.

Opponents regard them as a threat to Israeli democracy and US President Joe Biden is one of several Israeli allies to have voiced concern.

In March, Netanyahu announced a “pause”, allowing for President Isaac Herzog to host talks on the divisive reforms.

On Wednesday, however, opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz suspended their participation in the talks, after parliament failed to elect a member of the coalition to the committee to select judges.

In Tel Aviv, where the largest rally took place, Ami Bluzer said that Netanyahu was stalling to wear down opposition, but “we’ll stop him”.

“All the bills (constituting various elements of the judicial reform) are still like a bullet in the chamber that can be released in an instant. Things haven’t changed,” the Tel Aviv lawyer told AFP.

On Friday, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the main force behind the reforms, said he was “determined more than ever to continue and do everything to pass the reform, which is needed in order to redress the legal system”.

Netanyahu’s government, a coalition between his Likud party and extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, argues the changes are needed to rebalance powers between lawmakers and the judiciary.

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