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Judicial Reform Protests

Ahead of first Knesset readings, thousands take to streets for 7th week of protests

As Israeli justice minister vows to push ahead, some far-right coalition members continue to urge compromise

Israelis protest the Israeli government and its planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, Feb. 18, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Thousands of Israelis showed up for a seventh week of protests against the judicial reforms over the weekend. The demonstrations took place ahead of two judicial reform bills being presented before the Israeli Knesset for a first reading on Monday.

Protest organizers claim that close to 250,000 people joined the nationwide protests, however, the numbers are difficult to verify.

After several weeks of often incendiary language, Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai appeared on N12 TV news to express concerns about the possibility of political assassination.

"The current situation makes me sleepless, we are on a steep slope of contentious discourse," Shabtai told N12. "This is the opportunity to tell everyone to take a breath, relax and get into the conversation. Israel has already experienced harm to elected officials and we see similar threats online."

"The current situation makes me sleepless, we are on a steep slope of contentious discourse," Shabtai said during the interview. "This is the opportunity to tell everyone to take a breath, relax and get into the conversation. Israel has already experienced harm to elected officials and we see similar threats online."

The police commissioner's plea came after the far-right Likud party announced it had filed a complaint with the police over calls for civil disobedience and incitement.

Protest leaders have also called for a second demonstration on Monday morning, to be held in front of the Knesset, as the first readings of the judicial reforms begin.

Last Monday, thousands of protestors gathered across the country as the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee voted on the first of the judicial reform proposals.

Critics have accused the coalition of destroying democracy and creating a dictatorship.

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin disputed the claim, saying that the reforms are for “the strengthening of democracy.”

Levin also said that the bills will be modified as they are debated in the Knesset.

“What will end up in the Knesset will not be the same as what I proposed,” he said. “I made a proposal that I think is suitable to debate.”

Likud party lawmaker David Bitan affirmed that the parties would negotiate to find common ground.

“Of course, it will end with a compromise – 100%,” he told Channel 12 news. “It’s our responsibility to conduct negotiations,” he said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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