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Judicial reform protests continue for 13th straight week despite negotiations and temporary halt in legislation

Protest leaders say ‘the danger has not passed’, they will continue until the legislation is removed

Israelis block the Ayalon highway and clash with police in Tel Aviv during a protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul, April 1, 2023. (Photo: Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Thousands of protestors gathered across the State of Israel for a 13th week of protests against the coalition's proposed judicial reforms. 

Despite a temporary halt in judicial reform legislation, called by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, protestors continued to gather on Saturday night. 

Protest leaders said they will continue the protests until the proposed legislation is taken off the table. 

Opposition leaders and protest organizers say the decision to table the Judicial Selection Committee bill last week, after Netanyahu announced a halt to the legislation, is a demonstration that the coalition is not negotiating in good faith. 

Opposition leader Yair Lapid attended Saturday night's protests and posted on social media in support of the protests. 

“We are on our guard. The danger has not passed,” he tweeted. 

Lapid’s Yesh Atid party sent a team of negotiators to the discussions being held at Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s residence, however, he remained publicly skeptical that the negotiations will be successful. 

Along with the protests in Tel Aviv, which has been the primary site of protests since the coalition took power, were protests in Modi’in, outside the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, as well as in Haifa, Jerusalem and several other cities.

In Kfar Saba, several hundred judicial reform supporters called on the government to cease negotiations and continue with the judicial reform legislation. 

Opposition and protest leaders claim that Netanyahu is simply trying to calm the protests by announcing a halt to legislations, but that his coalition intends to pass the reforms, regardless. They point to the fact that the temporary pause Netanyahu declared, coincides with a Knesset break for the Passover holiday.

They also believe that the decision to table the Judicial Selection Committee bill after Netanyahu announced the pause, indicates that the coalition has not truly paused the legislation. By "tabling" the bill, the coalition can announce a final vote on the bill at any moment once the Knesset resumes after the holiday. Both opposition and protest leaders are calling on Netanyahu to remove the bill entirely, to demonstrate good faith negotiations. 

Opposition leader Avigdor Liberman refused to enter negotiations due to the tabling of the bill, calling it “a loaded gun.” He also stated that Netanyahu had “lied again” by calling for a halt, but then tabling the bill. 

A spokesperson for the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee disputed Liberman’s claim, saying the bill had already been transferred to the Knesset plenary before Netanyahu made his announcement, calling it “normal procedure.”  

Liberman also claimed that Netanyahu’s statement announcing the pause in legislation proves he “is more determined than ever to finalize all legislation, including the Basic Law for the Judiciary, and takeover of the Supreme Court. He has no intention of starting real negotiations; his intention is to wait for an appropriate time, and blame it all on the opposition for not agreeing to the settlement.” 

Another indication of growing public discontent with the political situation was the report in Kan News over the weekend that the Public Committee for Memorializing Soldiers had received thousands of requests urging that politicians from either side not be involved in Memorial Day events. 

The report also indicates that the committee has received opposing requests, from coalition supporters, asking that the tradition of having sitting politicians address the ceremonies not be changed. 

The decision has reportedly be handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office. 

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

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