Israel protests: About 160,000 people demonstrate against Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv



160,000 people protested in Tel Aviv Saturday night against the Israeli government’s plans to undermine the country’s justice system, crowd expert Ofer Greenboim Liron told CNN. This would make it one of the largest demonstrations against the law yet.

Greenboim Leeron, CEO of Crowd Solutions, which specializes in crowd dynamics at events and venues, based his estimate on drone photos at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).

Organizers of the protests said an additional 130,000 people protested in other demonstrations across the country on Saturday night. The number of organizers is higher than estimates by independent experts such as Greenboim Leeron.

Tel Aviv and other cities around Israel have seen regular Saturday night protests against judicial reform plans for eight weeks.

The package of legislation would give Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority. It will also give the government the power to nominate judges, which currently rests with a committee made up of judges, legal experts and politicians. It would remove power and independence from legal advisers to government ministries, and take away the power of the courts to invalidate “irrational” government appointments, as the High Court did in January, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Home and Health Forced to sack Minister Arieh Deri. .

Four legislative sections that are part of the overhaul took steps forward this week. Bills that would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings and remove the court’s power to strike down government appointments passed the preliminary stage of the process on Wednesday and now move to the committee stage. Two other clauses passed first reading on Monday and need two more readings to become law.

Critics have accused Netanyahu of pushing the law to get out of the corruption trials he is currently facing. Netanyahu denied that the trials were ending on their own, and that the changes were necessary after judicial overreach by unelected judges.

Two in three (66%) Israelis believe the Supreme Court should have the power to strike down laws inconsistent with Israel’s basic laws, and nearly the same proportion (63%) say they would like the current system of nominating judges. support, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found last week.

Those who said they voted for opposition parties were far more likely than voters for parties in the coalition to oppose the changes. Almost 9 in 10 (87%) of those who voted for the opposition said the Supreme Court should have the power to strike down laws inconsistent with the Basic Law, while only 44% of Coalition voters said it should. . The percentage was slightly higher among those who voted for Netanyahu’s Likud party, with nearly half (47%) saying the Supreme Court should have this power.

Israel does not have a written constitution, but has a set of laws called the Basic Law.

The survey, which was released on February 21, found that almost half (53%) of Israelis believe that removing the political independence of the judiciary will harm Israel’s economy – as Israeli economists and businessmen have been warning. . About a third (35%) do not believe the changes will hurt the economy.

The online and telephone survey of 756 adults in Israel was conducted between February 9 and 13, 2023, and has a margin of error of 3.56 points.

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