Tel Aviv — Tens of thousands of Israelis came out in the rain Saturday night to protest against the country the new government — led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — which includes far-right, ultra-conservative and religious parties. The policies proposed by Netanyahu’s coalition pose a threat to democracy and human rights in Israel, protesters say.
More than 80 thousand people demonstrated in Tel Aviv, according to local media, and smaller protests took place near Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem and Haifa.
“This is a fight for our homes, for our future, for the future of our children,” Victor, 46, told CBS News.
Among the things the protesters oppose are proposed judicial reforms that critics say will undermine Israel’s Supreme Court and Israel’s system of democratic checks and balances. The reforms would give Israel’s parliament the right to overturn high court decisions with a simple majority vote, as well as the right to appoint judges.
“This is how every modern liberal democracy has fallen,” Victor said. “This is the first step… To divide and de-link the various branches of government.”
“The highest” rates were placed on the country, added Viktor.
Netanyahu, 73, who has been back in power in Israel for about two weeks, is in his third term as prime minister and was elected despite criminal cases corruption. Critics say his coalition’s proposed overhaul could remove those charges.
Netanyahu’s return to power was made possible by a coalition of far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties that announced their intention to reverse a series of social reforms that, if adopted, would undermine the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people, as well as expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is against international law.
“We came to protest the government’s intentions and attempts to politicize the judicial system, to weaken the Supreme Court, to politically influence the process of electing judges, thereby making it more difficult for minorities to express their opinions, for people to defend themselves against official or state oppression,” Dan, a children’s, told CBS News. a dentist demonstrating with his daughter Tamar.
Ahead of Saturday’s demonstration, there was a heavy police presence in Tel Aviv, with surrounding roads closed to traffic. Police sources told Israeli media that law enforcement agencies were instructed to be “very sensitive” and allow the protests to proceed peacefully. Local media reported that there were no reports of significant violence or casualties.
“What’s happening is really a direct threat to minority groups as well as Palestinians,” said Tamar, 26, a master’s student in Middle Eastern history. “It is important to emphasize that there is a voice in the Jewish community. Also thinking of the Palestinians and supporting their freedom and basic human rights, as well as the LGBTQ community, women. I mean, this coalition is extremely right-wing, extremely religious. “