Thousands of Israelis walk along a highway toward Jerusalem ahead of a key vote on judicial reform

On the eve of the Israeli Parliament headquarters Jerusalem, starting discussion of a major judicial reform bill, a crowd is heading towards the city on the Tel Aviv highway this Saturday. The goal: to show that the protest movement against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu facing a major vote is very much alive, even after 30 consecutive weeks of demonstrations.

March It started last Thursday in Tel Aviv, about 60 kilometers away, with hundreds of people, more as a symbolic initiative than a huge one, but it added thousands along the way. Now, he forms the tide marching in the sunshine with national flags and plans to cross the Santiago Calatrava Bridge that leads to Jerusalem at sunset. Participants will then demonstrate in front of Parliament and spend the night camped out in a nearby park, awaiting the vote, which shifted the focus of the protest from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The text, which will reach the Knesset, the national parliament, on Sunday, is one of the most important texts in the package that makes up the judicial reform presented in January by the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, and. Is Israel divided socially and politically?. The proposal consists of stripping the Supreme Court of the power to overturn decisions of government, ministers or elected public officials – such as mayors – that it deems manifestly unreasonable.

The executive – a coalition of conservatives, ultra-nationalists and religious – considers that the court has unfairly taken this instrument and given it excessive power, which it uses with political intentions. Its defenders, on the contrary, see it as a necessary legal weight in a country without a constitution and deplore it. An attempt to remove restrictions on the executive power Similar to those experienced by Türkiye, Poland or Hungary.

The march towards Jerusalem, at the height of the town of Mevaseret Zion, Shabbat. Menachem Kahane (AFP)

The Knesset approved the text in its first reading last Sunday. Then, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee gave the green light to the final text after 19 hours of debate and a failed attempt to stop it with political filibuster: The opposition submitted nearly 28,000 amendments, the vote on which ended at dawn from 8:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The plenary session to discuss the law begins on Sunday. Voting on the last two readings is scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

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Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich confirms this I have never seen Netanyahu so ‘firm’ to pass the rule. The dynamics has once again rallied critics of judicial reform. in the past weeks, They have resumed the proceedings Such as the closure of the country’s main airport (Tel Aviv), highways and train stations, in parallel with the mass demonstrations on Saturday, which continued to mobilize tens of thousands of people, especially in Tel Aviv.


The picture is similar to that of March, when Netanyahu had to Pause repair Due to a combination of pressures: massive demonstrations, the public ousting of his defense minister, Yoav Gallant; Liquidation of the crisis of the economy the armed forces; Criticism of the President of the United States, Joe Biden … Then the government and the opposition began a dialogue sponsored by President Isaac Herzog, barely making any progress, amid mutual mistrust and rebuke. The negotiations culminated last month in a contentious parliamentary session. The President confirmed this Tuesday, Before his meeting at the White House with Bidenthat the reform crisis shows that Israel has a “solid and resilient” democracy, despite “painful situations, heated debates and difficult moments.”

As in March, reservists – a sacred institution in the country – The pulse is increasing. More than 1,100 Air Force personnel this Friday told the chiefs of the General Staff, Herzi Halevi, and the Military Aviation, Tomer Bar, that they would not participate in the training if the controversial law continues. The declaration has a greater impact than other similar declarations because it is a prestigious body, a key to the country’s military superiority, and necessary for a possible surprise attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Israel has been threatening for years. In total, more than 5,000 reservists from various corps and units have made such announcements in recent weeks.

As was the case then, the defense minister is divided among his membership in the executive branch (Netanyahu kept him in office after announcing his dismissal) And his greatest knowledge of what is going on in the army. For this reason, a leak occurred in the local media on Friday that he had asked to postpone the vote. His office emphasized that Gallant: “takes steps to reach a broad consensus and to ensure the security of the State of Israel, leaving the defense forces outside the political discourse.” Addressing the nation on Thursday, Netanyahu did not make any comments, but warned that “in a democracy, the army is subject to the government, it is not subject to it” and described as “illegal” the attempt by “military elements” to “dictate government policies through threats.”

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