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Tens of Thousands of Israelis Benjamin Netanyahu’s Judicial Reforms Protest for 7th Straight Saturday Night

WhatsApp 2023-02-18 pro-democracy demonstration in Tel Aviv/ by unknown photographer. From ביומד והייטק 4 דמוקרטיה

For the seventh straight week, Israelis took to the streets Saturday night to protest against the judicial reform plan proposed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that would strip Israel’s Supreme Court of its power to review laws passed by the Knesset and government actions. More than 100,000 people came out in Tel Aviv alone, where many went onto the city’s Ayalon freeway and blocked traffic.

The opposition maintains that the proposed reforms would harm Israel’s character as a democratic nation since they would end any check on the powers of the government. Former Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid said that the government is “stressed” by and “afraid” of all of the protesters.

Yair Lapid told the protesters, “I want you to know something about yourselves, about your voice, about this demonstration: you are heard. We hear you in Jerusalem, we hear you in the Knesset, we hear you in the Government compound, in the Prime Minister’s office, and behind closed doors.”

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And referring to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu he added, “They hear you and they are stressed.” They hear you, and they are afraid.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is moving forward with the passage of its legislation – this also includes greatly curtailing the authority of Israel’s attorney general to block government actions that he determines to be either illegal or a violation of minority rights in some way – in spite of the dramatic and unprecedented plea made by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog last week to take a step back and reconsider the plan.

“Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, allow dialogue to take place because there is a huge majority of the nation that wants dialogue,” said Herzog.

President Herzog also said that such a dramatic reform should only be done by a “super majority” of some sort in the Knesset that includes the opposition and not just by a simple absolute majority of 61 out of the Knesset’s 120 members.

Many have also said that the reforms would harm Israel’s economy because foreign governments and investors would lose faith in Israel as a stable democracy.

Even the leaders of Israel’s banking sector – members of the Association of Banks in Israel – have said as much in a face to face meeting with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Also, many Israel firms are taking their money out of the country out of concerns that the reforms could harm Israel’s economy. Many experts have said that should the judicial reforms pass then the world would lose faith in Israel’s democratic stability and so investors would not be as likely to invest there. This has been stated by major American financial firms like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

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