Friday December 08, 2023

Israelis protest as Netanyahu heads abroad

March 16, 2023

TEL AVIV: Opponents of controversial judicial reforms sought by Israel´s government demonstrated on Wednesday at Ben Gurion airport ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s departure on an official trip to Germany.

“Dictator on the run” and “Don´t come back”, read placards held up by demonstrators near the airport, where a convoy of cars bearing Israeli flags circulated between the terminals, making them difficult to access, an AFP correspondent reported.

The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted on Tuesday to approve a bill in first reading that would, among other things, allow lawmakers to scrap Supreme Court rulings with a simple majority vote.

The government of Netanyahu, which includes ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties, introduced its package to overhaul the judiciary in January. Netanyahu, who also has a planned trip to Britain, presents the overhaul as key to restoring balance between the branches of government in a system he believes gives judges too much power over elected officials.

But the move has sparked 10 consecutive weeks of nationwide demonstrations, with critics expressing concerns that the reform package threatens Israel´s liberal democracy. They have also charged that the proposed changes aim to protect the Israeli prime minster as he fights corruption charges.