‘Clear, imminent danger’: Protests enter 23rd week ahead of key judicial panel vote

Protests against the government’s controversial plan to overhaul the judicial system entered their 23rd week on Saturday, just days before a crucial Knesset vote on the formation of a key judicial selection committee.

“We face a clear and imminent danger. If the government were to carry out a hostile takeover of the Judicial Selection Committee, it would be surprised at the magnitude and intensity of the national protests. Only determination and uncompromising struggle would allow the government to further an authoritarian regime. escalating,” protest organizers said in a statement ahead of nationwide rallies on Saturday night.

“It is clear to all that the government is moving towards a regime change that will destroy the army, the economy and our society. Will oppose the waste of.

On Wednesday, the Knesset will vote to appoint two lawmakers to the nine-member judicial selection committee.

Breaking with tradition, the coalition has threatened to take away both those places on the table. Opposition leaders have said that if the coalition does so, it would signal the end of settlement talks under the auspices of President Isaac Herzog.

The makeup of judicial selection panels is central to the coalition’s ongoing efforts to greatly increase political control over the judiciary. A key bill in the overhaul plan would revamp the committee and hand the government an automatic majority, giving it the power to determine most judicial appointments.

People take part in a protest against the planned judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on June 3, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

That bill is on the verge of being passed into law, and could be brought up for its final, back-to-back votes in the Knesset plenum at a moment’s notice. However, such action is almost certain to rekindle intense public protests, similar to those last seen before the law was frozen.

Rallies were to be held at more than 150 places across the country on Saturday.

The main event on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street will begin at 7 p.m. with a march from the city’s Dizengoff Square. The rally will begin at 8 p.m. and will include speeches by the founder and CEO of Papaya Global Inayat Guez, a prominent figure in opposition to the reservoirs. , Eyal Naveh, and protest leader Shikma Bresler.

Bressler, a research physicist and co-founder of the Black Flag protest movement, said Friday that the demonstrations would continue as long as the overhaul law remains viable.

“Nothing has changed. The law is still on the table with the gun loaded. It is true that the government says they want a compromise, but within hours they will introduce a law to change the composition of the committee for selecting judges. Can make.”

Shikma Bresler attends an anti-judicial overhaul rally at the gate of the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. (Gilli Yaari/Flash90)

“You have to listen to the members of the coalition – they are saying one after the other that they will continue with the legislation if there is no agreement,” she said.

“Experience shows that we cannot trust anything. We have realized that we are a barrier between democratic and dictatorial Israel and that is why we are on the streets.

Saturday’s demonstration came after several coalition MPs protested during their visits to the United States over the past few days, causing many of them to cancel appearances and speeches.

Meanwhile, the past week saw a slight increase in weekly protests, as well as renewed anger at police over arrests and a crackdown on the key overhaul architect, the key overhaul architect, in Caesarea near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence Rallies got a boost. Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, for snatching a megaphone from a protester following him during a visit to New York.

Various Hebrew media outlets estimated that between 95,000 and 140,000 people attended the main rally on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, with thousands of others in approximately 150 locations across the country. After the scheduled speeches ended, hundreds of people turned to Ayalon Highway and briefly blocked the city’s main road in both directions, with some lighting on the road.

Protesters block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, during a rally against a planned judicial overhaul on June 3, 2023 (Omer Fichman/Flash90)

Judicial overhaul legislation has been frozen since late March, when Netanyahu said he would halt plans to allow talks with the opposition under Herzog’s auspices aimed at finding a widely accepted compromise on judicial reform.

but it’s been months of talks did not make a breakthroughAnd pressure has mounted within the coalition to resume the legislative push.

netanyahu Said Last month, following the passage of the state budget, the overhaul was now back on the government’s agenda as a “certain way”. Later that day, however, he added: “We will certainly continue our efforts to reach a broad consensus agreement, as far as possible, on the issue of judicial reform.”

Critics say the overhaul would undermine the high court’s power to act as a check and balance against parliament, erode Israel’s democratic character and leave minorities vulnerable. Supporters say the law is needed to rein in what they see as an overly intrusive court system.

Michael Bachner and Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.

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