Masses of Israelis took to the streets for the ninth consecutive Saturday night to protest against the judicial reforms planned by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And opposition leaders like Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz continued with their rhetoric of condemnation against Netanyahu and his coalition partners.
The government’s judicial reform plan would greatly curtail the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify legislation passed by the Knesset and also limit the authority of Israel’s attorney general. Israel’s opposition charges this would harm Israel’s democracy, eroding foreign confidence in the country and hurting its economy.
The demonstrations come on Saturday nights because Saturday is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath which begins Friday night. In Israel, there is no public transportation on Shabbat and most businesses are closed. So, Saturday night is the big night for protests; even though, Sunday is the first day of the work week.
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Former Prime Minsiter of Israel and the current leader of the opposition in the Knesset Yair Lapid had some choice words for the people in Israel’s current coalition government who are responsible for the nation’s security.
Lapid especially lashed out at Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of Israel’s right-wing Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) Party who currently serves as the country’s minister of National Security and in that capacity is in charge of the Israel police. Lapid dismissed Ben-Gvir – a former Meir Kahane follower and member of extremist groups who did not serve in the IDF – as a social media fool.
“The dangerous TikTok clown,” said Lapid, “continues to incite and encourage violence. There has never been a minister in the government who openly tries to create violent clashes between the police and the citizens. It won’t help him. The demonstrations will only grow and grow, grow stronger.”
On the demonstration, Lapid said they are, “bigger than a demonstration against the government, bigger than a demonstration against the coup d’état, what we are doing here is pledging allegiance to the State of Israel.”
Lapid went on to call right-wing leader Bezalel Smotrich – the current minister of finance – a liar.
“Smotrich is a liar, son of a liar, continuing his campaign of lies,” he said. “This time he said on a broadcast that I called on the factory owners to take their factories out of Israel. If there is one record of me saying that, he is welcome to sue me. Why is he lying? Because he knows he is leading to the destruction of the economy with his own hands.”
Some of Israel’s business leaders have made calls for people to take their finances out of the country out of fear for the future of the country’s economy.
Then there is former defense minister and leader of the opposition Blue and White Party Benny Gantz.
On the government’s judicial reform plans, Gantz stated simply, “They must stop.”
At a demonstration in Beer Sheva he said, “There are no anarchists here, there are no lawbreakers here, there are lovers of the state here.” This was said in response to last week’s comments by Netanyahu who charged that the demonstrators were law-breaking anarchists.
“We are brothers, not enemies,” added Gantz. “We will not give up our values and common path and we will not allow anyone to spoil what was built here in the last 75 years. Reform by consent – yes. Regime coup – no.”
And Gantz also called government leaders liars, specifically Ben-Gvir, who visited the national police headquarters Saturday night in order to show that he was dealing with the demonstrations personally.
“The whole purpose of Ben-Gvir’s arrival at the police headquarters,” said Gantz, “is political interference in the professional work of the police. I call on the Commissioner and the police to act according to their professional judgment and not according to improper political pressures.”