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Seventh week of protests in Israel over Netanyahu's planned judicial reforms

Unconfirmed reports in local media say thousands took the streets of Tel Aviv
Unconfirmed reports in local media say thousands took the streets of Tel Aviv Copyright Tsafrir Abayov/Copyright 2023 The AP All rights reserved
Copyright Tsafrir Abayov/Copyright 2023 The AP All rights reserved
By Mark Armstrong with AFP
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Seventh week of protests in Israel over Benjamin Netanyahu's planned judicial reforms that would allow the government to overrule the Supreme Court

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Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Israel for the seventh consecutive week to protest against the government's judicial reform proposals. 

On Monday, Knesset members will be able to vote on the bill, which aims to allow parliament to overrule the country's Supreme Court with a simple majority vote. 

Advocates of reform say that the judiciary is too politicised and the reforms would restore balance to the system, but the protesters and many others see the move as an attack on democracy.

"We have no choice, we can't give up," said lawyer Nati Ron, "this is our country, I fought wars, I lost friends in wars, they didn't die for this, they didn't die for a dictator state. I owe it to them. It's the least I can do.

He added that Benjamin Netanyahu's government is "aiming at ruining the democracy we've had for 75 years" since Israel was founded, by "cancelling the courts".

"I feel hope, but at the same time that there are so many people here but the government still won't listen to our voices," added another protester, law student Amit Melamed.

Netanyahu returned to power following elections in November, at the head of a coalition with extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, but he is still on trial accused of corruption.

Critics of the judicial reform say he could use it to overturn a possible conviction. 

this is our country, I fought wars, I lost friends in wars, they didn't die for this, they didn't die for a dictator state
Nati Ron
Lawyer

President Isaac Herzog, who holds a largely ceremonial role, had urged Netanyahu's government to suspend the legislative process and hold talks with the opposition in hopes of reaching a compromise.

But while Netanyahu and other members of his coalition have expressed willingness to talk, they refused to halt legislation, with parliament set to begin voting on two of the new bills on Monday.

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