Protests intensify in Israel as anger grows over government's judicial reform plans

Woman waves Israeli flag during protests in Tel Aviv, Israel, against the government's judicial reform
Woman waves Israeli flag during protests in Tel Aviv, Israel, against the government's judicial reform Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP All rights reserved
By Euronews with AFP
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Israeli protesters blocked highways and converged on the Tel Aviv airport Tuesday, stepping up resistance to the hard-right government's judicial overhaul package opponents say threatens democracy


Tel Aviv's motorways were brought to a standstill as thousands of Israeli protesters blocked roads in huge demonstrations against government plans to overhaul the judiciary. 

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel's main international airport, was also brought to a halt due to blockades. 

At least 70 people were arrested across the country. Tuesday's clashes with police were sparked after the Israeli parliament passed the first of three votes on a bill to remove the power of the Supreme Court to review ministers' decisions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies have proposed a series of bills that have provoked months of sustained protests by opponents who say the country is being pushed toward authoritarian rule. 

The latest parliamentary vote aimed to scrap the "reasonability" clause, through which the judiciary can strike down government decisions.

The proposals would also give the government a greater say in the appointment of judges. 

Netanyahu returned to power in December at the head of a coalition with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right allies. His administration argues the judicial revamp is necessary to ensure a better balance of power.

But protesters to the reforms think differently. 

"I have been protesting for over half a year because our government has decided to change the face of the country, turning us from a democratic nation that empowers everyone and protects our rights into an unequal state that prioritises the personal interests of those currently in power," says medical student Yael Erez, one the many protesting in Tel Aviv.

The bill is set for further discussion in the parliamentary justice committee on Tuesday before it returns to the chamber.

In the absence of lasting negotiations with the opposition, the cabinet is now determined to press on with the legislative process.

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