The protests spanned across Israel in Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Haifa and Tel Aviv bringing in tens of thousands of Israelis to protest the government’s plan to weaken the judiciary
By Josh Breiner,Bar Peleg,Yael Freidson,
Adi Hashmonai,Nati Yefet and Judy Maltz
More than 130,000 demonstrators came out Saturday to protest the new government’s plans to weaken Israel’s court system. The vast majority of the protesters, 120,000, were in Tel Aviv, while thousands of others participated in protests in Jerusalem, Haifa and Be’er Sheva.
Some 110,000 protesters participated in the main protest, centered on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, while another 10,000 protesters attended a parallel event at nearby Habima Square. There were 4,000 at the protest in Jerusalem and 6,000 protesters in Haifa. Several hundred also protested in Be’er Sheva.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid spoke at the protest on Kaplan Street.
“This is a protest intended to defend the country. People who love the country came today to defends its democracy and its courts, to defend the idea of common life and common good,” Lapid said. He had not attended the protest the previous Saturday, apparently because politicians were not permitted to make speeches.
“Lovers of Israel came to protest for a Jewish and democratic country. We won’t give up until we win,” he said.
Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who was also at the protest, stated in an interview with public broadcaster Kan 11: “We are not ready to compromise on Israeli democracy in its deepest sense. The fact that we are ready to reach agreements does not mean that we are ready to give up.”
Moshe Ya’alon, another former defense minister and former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, also spoke at the protest: “A country where the prime minister appoints all the judges and is responsible for promoting and firing them has a name. It’s called a dictatorship. When this prime minster is also a defendant whom the State of Israel is accusing of serious crimes, it has a name. It’s called a dictatorship of criminals.”
Ya’alon was referring to the ongoing criminal trials in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a defendant.
Referring to Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s plan to weaken the judiciary, Ya’alon said, “This is legislation with a black flag flying over it,” adding, “Legislation that turns Israel into a dictatorship where a criminal defendant appoints judges is patently illegal legislation.”
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