Protests in Israel: Thousands Demonstrate at the Knesset

Protests against judicial reform have now reached the capital as thousands flooded into Jerusalem on Monday.

By Michael Selutin | | Topics: Supreme Court
Left-wing Israelis demonstrate against judicial reform at the Knesset on Monday.
Left-wing Israelis demonstrate against judicial reform at the Knesset on Monday. Photo: Jamal Awad/Flash90

Police closed the main streets around the Knesset to traffic on Monday morning ahead of a mass rally that began at noon, just after the coalition passed the first reading of a bill introducing parts of the proposed judicial reform.

Hundreds of hi-tech companies, law firms and other private businesses allowed their employees to join a large-scale private sector strike Monday against plans to overhaul Israel’s courts.

According to leaders of the tech employees’ protest, more than 45 buses brought employees from Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Beersheba, Nahariya and other locations to the protest in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem.

In addition, thousands of doctors and mental health professionals were expected to join the strike.

Most demonstrators came from outside Jerusalem, many aboard the new express train from Tel Aviv. Photo: Erik Marble/Flash90

President fears collapse

The demonstrations come after a rare plea by President Isaac Herzog in favor of consultations and compromises on the reform plan, and a five-point proposal for negotiations on the reorganization of the judiciary.

In his televised address Sunday, Herzog said the country is on the brink of “social and constitutional collapse,” and urged citizens on both sides of the political divide to refrain from violence. “Even more so from violence against public officials and elected representatives,” he pleaded.

The president expressed deep concern about the nature of the government’s reforms, saying he was concerned that they had the potential to affect “the democratic foundations” of the country, yet noted that “change” and “reform” were legitimate aspirations. He proposed a plan to find a compromise on the controversial reform agenda, while urging the coalition not to move forward with the legislative process.

Israeli activists block Highway 1 near Abu Gosh during a protest against the government’s planned judicial reform. Photo: Flash90

Elite vs. ordinary citizens

It is interesting to see that the protesters against the judicial reform belong to the higher income and educational classes of the country. Lawyers, doctors and hi-tech employees generally represent Israel’s (leftist) elite.

On the other side are the “ordinary” citizens who certified their approval of the reform at the ballot box. Judicial reform was a major issue during the election campaign and those who voted for the parties that now make up the current government knew what they were planning, in particular the overhaul of how the Supreme Court operates.

As the Supreme Court consolidates the elites’ control over the country, opposition to curtailing its power is particularly strong. Israel is evolving, becoming more religious and nationalist. And the Supreme Court stands in the way of this development.


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One response to “Protests in Israel: Thousands Demonstrate at the Knesset”

  1. Annette Leon says:

    I wish someone in simple terms please explain what the proposed changes are. It’s all beyond me. Thousands of people can’t be that wrong if so many are against these changes.
    I have become aware of some rulings which effect women mainly, much the same as the Taliban ? It’s all so serial.
    I am beginning to feel totally disconnected from my Jewish background and more so to Israel.
    Christians believe in the return of YESHUA..seems to me he is needed now. Maybe a earthquake spreading to Israel will shake it all up. How horrible is that, which we see on our TV’s…..Some believe the Creator of the Universe is showing displeasure. All stranger than fiction or more than Coincidence?. ???? ????

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