For the 16th consecutive week, tens of thousands of Israelis participated in protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to tighten control over the Supreme Court as part of what is known as the "Judicial Amendments".
Yesterday, Saturday, the demonstrators organized a central protest on “Kaplan” Street (central Tel Aviv), in which more than 30,000 people participated, according to the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation. Other demonstrations were also organized in the cities of Haifa (north), Beersheba (south), Jerusalem, Netanya and Ashdod. And Herzliya, Rosh Ha’ayin, Beit Shemesh, Kfar Saba, and Bat Yam (center), and tens of thousands also participated in it, according to the authority.
As a result of the demonstrations, the Israeli police closed a number of roads in several parts, especially the city of Tel Aviv, according to the same source.
In the face of a wave of strikes and mass demonstrations, Netanyahu announced at the end of last March the suspension of plans to amend the judiciary until a dialogue with the opposition, but he said he would not abandon them.
The proposed amendments give the government effective control over the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and allow parliament to overrule many court decisions.
The government accuses judges active in political life of increasingly interfering in the work of parliament, and says the amendments are necessary to restore balance between the judiciary and elected politicians.
Critics say the amendments would remove vital checks and balances on which a democratic state is based and give the government unfettered power.
Immediately after suspending the plan, Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced the start of hosting dialogue sessions between the coalition and opposition parties to bridge views.
The opposition says – in the words of its leaders, most notably former Prime Minister Yair Lapid – that the plan in its current form is the "end of democracy" and the beginning of a "dictatorial era" in Israel and describes it as an "authoritarian coup", while Netanyahu asserts that his plan aims to restore balance between the authorities.
Herzog said on Saturday that the conflict over the controversial plan to "reform the judiciary" is the "most serious crisis" since the establishment of the state.
He added – in an exclusive interview published by Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on its website – "I believe that the current crisis is the most serious in the country's history; the most dangerous since the establishment of the state… This internal crisis affects many sectors."
An opinion poll published by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Authority on Friday showed that the plans are very unpopular, as 53% of those who participated in the survey believed that the plans would harm the state, while 60% of Israelis said that the government does not represent them, and 48% believe that the situation in the country It will continue to deteriorate.