Israelis rally against judicial reform for 22nd week in a row

Protesters block Tel Aviv highway as turnout rises in 22nd weekly demonstration against judicial overhaul.

By The Associated Press

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday to protest judicial overhaul plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

The weekly protests, now in their 22nd week, continue despite Netanyahu’s March announcement that the contentious legal proposals were put on hold.

Several rallies were held across Israel, with the main protest drawing tens of thousands in the central city of Tel Aviv. The turnout at the Tel Aviv gathering was estimated by Hebrew media outlets to be at least 95,000 – up from 80,00 last week.

The protesters waved Israel’s flags, lit torches, and beat drums.

Hundreds of demonstrators at the Tel Aviv rally blocked traffic on the Ayalon Highway. Police officers quickly cleared demonstrators from the northbound highway, though protesters continued to block the southbound Ayalon for over an hour.

The plan would curtail judicial activism and the judiciary’s ability to strike down laws and government decisions, a move critics say poses a direct threat to civil rights.

Protests have continued even though the government and Opposition are in talks, brokered by President Isaac Herzog, to find a compromise on the plan.

The government says the judicial plan is meant to rein in what it says is an overly interventionist Supreme Court and restore power to elected legislators. Critics say it will grant the government unrestrained power and upend the country’s system of checks and balances.

Read  Report: Netanyahu ready to quit in exchange for a Saudi peace deal, dismissal of criminal charges