Several thousand people protested again in Israel against the government’s announced justice reform. Rallies were held in many cities across the country, with demonstrators blocking several major roads and transport hubs.
According to local media, authorities have deployed several thousand police officers across the country, and 14 protesters have been arrested.
In Tel Aviv, demonstrators waved Israeli flags and blocked the highway leading to Jerusalem and the route to Ben International Airport Gurion near the city.
With this, they wanted to prevent the departure of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Italy, where he is expected on a visit today, but the Israeli Prime Minister went to the airport by helicopter instead of by car, reports the German news agency DPA.
Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Guyconvicted in 2007 of supporting a terrorist organization, ordered police to prevent protesters from blocking roads. “You can demonstrate and shout, this is democracy. But we will not allow anarchy. I will not allow the lives of 70,000 people to be destroyed,” he said, referring to the estimated number of passengers expected to depart Ben Airport today Gurion.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who began a tour of the Middle East on Sunday, meanwhile met with Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister near the airport to Joav gallant, reports the French news agency AFP.
The aim of the reform is to limit the power of the Supreme Court
Protests against the judicial reform prepared by the far-right government have been ongoing in Israel for several weeks. The reform has sparked widespread accusations that it will give lawmakers almost unchecked power. Critics also fear the reform will allow Netanyahu to avoid conviction in a corruption trial.
Netanyahu and his allies argue that the reform is needed to redress the power imbalance between elected lawmakers and the Supreme Court. The goal of the reform is to increase the power of Parliament and significantly limit the possibilities of the Supreme Court to annul laws and government decisions. With the reform, they want to provide the government with actual control over the appointment of supreme judges.
Despite the protests against the reform, it continues on its way and could be approved by April after a shortened procedure.