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'Don’t you dare invalidate a Basic Law,' Smotrich warns High Court at pro-judicial reform rally in Jerusalem

Thousands of right-wing supporters demonstrate ahead of critical hearing, chant ‘Supreme Court is the dictator’

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sept. 7, 2023. (Photo: Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

A pro-judicial reform rally in Jerusalem on Thursday night drew at least 10,000 supporters outside of the Supreme Court building, ahead of a High Court hearing scheduled to take place on Tuesday. 

Attendees chanted statements such as: “64 mandates,” “Supreme Court is the dictator,” and “the people demand judicial reforms.” 

The rally was held in the same place where anti-reform protests were held in July, in the lead up to the passing of the Reasonableness Standard Law. 

A panel of coalition members and political supporters addressed the crowds throughout the event. 

Right-wing Israelis attend a rally in support of the government's judicial overhaul outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sept. 7, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Rally organizers played a video of Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, in which he warned the High Court of Justice ruling against the Reasonableness Standard Law that would “plunge us into the abyss.” 

“Now, we are facing a new and dangerous juncture, which could plunge us into the abyss, with the High Court soon holding discussions on Basic Laws,” Ohana said in the video, where thousands could be seen cheering.

The same video drew sharp criticism earlier on Friday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared it on a personal social media platform. Some accused him of encouraging “the Knesset to break the law.” 

Minister of Settlements and National Missions Orit Strock addressed the protesters: "I want to ask for your forgiveness. You voted as expected in a democratic country, and on every ballot you placed it was clearly written 'reforming the justice system,''' she said.

"You are not supposed to be here, you are supposed to be sitting at home. But there are people here who do not know how to accept the decision of the majority. They shout democracy, but actually demand a dictatorship."

The Religious Zionism party head, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also addressed the crowd, drawing loud cheers and applause from those attending. 

After addressing the crowd and thanking them for their support for the coalition and the reforms, Smotrich spoke directly to the Supreme Court. He said the court also has a responsibility to behave appropriately. 

“Don’t you dare invalidate a Basic Law; the responsibility is on you,” Smotrich said. 

He also addressed Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, saying nullifying a Basic Law was beyond her authority.

“Nullifying a Basic Law is a deviation from all your authority and will be the end of Israeli democracy,” Smotrich claimed. 

He was referring to the Reasonableness Standard Law, which will be reviewed by an unprecedented full bench of Supreme Court Justices. 

It will be the first High Court of Justice hearing to have the entire court present. The presence of all the justices is an indication of the seriousness with which the court is taking this law. 

During the rally, some youth associated with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir's Jewish Power party distributed stickers supporting the late rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated a Jewish theocratic state free of Arab and non-Jewish citizens.

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

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