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Judicial reform protesters gather across the nation for 21st week, following approval of two-year state budget

Reduced turnout may indicate 'protest fatigue,' unhappiness with some opposition leaders

Thousands of Israelis protest the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, May 27, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

For the 21st week, Israelis took to the streets to protest against the coalition’s proposed judicial reforms.

With the passing of the coalition 2023-2024 state budget last week, there is increasing pressure on leaders from both the coalition and opposition to take action.

Netanyahu promised to continue compromise talks aimed at achieving a consensus agreement.

“We will of course continue with our efforts to arrive at a broad consensus agreement, to the extent possible, on the issue of judicial reform,” he said.

Opposition and protest leaders have increasingly expressed skepticism regarding Netanyahu’s motivation for the negotiations. Many protest leaders have accused him of engaging in talks to stall the process, while reducing pressure from protests.

“Now it is clear that the negotiations at the President’s Residence served as a mere ploy by Netanyahu to buy time,” protest leaders said in a statement.

“The government is one vote away from passing the judicial overhaul which would undermine Israel’s democratic institutions,” they warned. The protest leaders said only renewed protests would stop the coalition from advancing the reforms.

As before, the main protest took place in Tel Aviv's city center, with smaller gatherings around the country.

Labor party chairperson Merav Michaeli spoke to protesters at Karkur junction, where she was jeered by some in the crowd who shouted, “Go home! When are you resigning?”  

Opposition leader and former Israeli Defense Forces Minister Benny Gantz told protesters gathered in Hod Hasharon that they had been able to “stop Israel’s gallop to disaster.”

“We will do everything in order to reach agreements while protecting our principles in order to preserve Israeli democracy,” he said.

Knesset Member Gadi Eisenkot, a former IDF chief-of-staff and a senior member of National Unity party, called for a one-year pause to judicial reforms to allow for progress in compromise negotiations.

“My personal position is that after two months of negotiations, we need to do what is best for the State of Israel, and that is take away the gun from the table for at least one year,” he said, using a familiar opposition phrase to refer to the threat of reforms being resumed at any moment.

Eisenkot also called for a new compromise effort, with “an agreed upon public committee” to work out a judicial reform deal over the next year.

A recent poll seems to indicate growing dissatisfaction with both coalition and opposition leaders. It appears that public frustration with the lack of progress in both judicial reform legislation or in the subsequent compromise negotiations has caused Israelis to wane in their support.

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

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