Israelis rally for fifth week against Netanyahu’s justice plans | News about Benjamin Netanyahu

Tens of thousands of people braved heavy rain in Tel Aviv to protest against government plans to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court.

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered for a fifth week of protests against controversial judicial changes proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Protesters in the central city of Tel Aviv braved heavy rain for Saturday’s protest, carrying blue and white Israeli flags and chanting slogans against Netanyahu’s justice minister.

“I’m here tonight protesting Israel’s transition from democracy to autocracy,” Dov Levenglick, a 48-year-old software engineer, told the Reuters news agency in Tel Aviv.

“It’s a shame, it won’t last.”

The proposed changes, which the government says are needed to curb judicial overreach, have drawn fierce opposition from groups including lawyers and raised concerns among business leaders, widening already deep political divisions in Israeli society.

Critics say Israeli democracy would be undermined if the government succeeds in pushing through the plans, which would tighten political control over judicial appointments and limit the Supreme Court’s power to overturn government decisions or Knesset laws.

“They want to bring down Israel’s justice system, they want to bring down Israel’s democracy, and we are here every week in all weathers … to fight it and fight for Israeli democracy,” Hadar Segal, 35, told Reuters in Tel Aviv .

Local media reported on protests in about twenty cities across the country.

Among those gathered in Haifa was former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who said in a video posted on social media: “We will save our country because we don’t want to live in an undemocratic country.”

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, dismissed the protests as a refusal by leftist opponents to accept the results of last November’s election, which produced one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history.

Last month he was forced to sack senior minister Aryeh Deri, who leads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, due to a recent conviction for tax evasion.

In addition to the judicial changes, his government announced its intention to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as social reforms that worried the LGBTQ community.

Dania Shwartz, 44, from the city of Ramat Gan, told the AFP news agency that the protesters were “taking back” the Israeli flag.

She expressed concern that, as a member of the LGBTQ community, “this new government will try to pass laws that will affect my children.”

“For example, the Noam party wants to delegitimize families like ours and that is very scary,” she said, referring to one of Netanyahu’s coalition partners known for his fierce anti-gay stance.

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