TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israelis protesting a controversial government plan to overhaul the justice system hoped to ratchet up the heat on Wednesday with large demonstrations and roadblocks in what protest leaders called a “day national” of strikes.
The mobilizations take place while the executive pursues the measure. A parliamentary committee continues to move forward on a bill that would weaken the Supreme Court. Additionally, parliament is due to hold a preliminary vote on a separate proposal to shield Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from possible ousting over complaints that he cannot hold office while on trial for corruption.
Protesters blocked the main highway between Tel Aviv and East Jerusalem early Wednesday, paralyzing traffic during the morning rush hour for about an hour. At busy Tel Aviv train stations, protesters blocked exits by blocking train doors, according to Israeli media.
Four people were arrested for disturbing public order, police said.
In response to the mobilizations, the Minister of National Security, the ultra-nationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir, asked the police to prevent roadblocks and called the demonstrators “anarchists”.
Rivalries are on the rise, deepening one of Israel’s worst internal crises. Legal reform has sparked unprecedented unrest, with weeks of mass protests and criticism from legal experts, business leaders and security officials, as well as concern from international allies.
The clash coincides with a new round of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians and comes at a time when Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing in the country’s history, is starting to show divisions just two months after taking office. power.
None of the parties seem to move. The executive has rejected requests to freeze the reform and relaunch dialogue, while the organizers of the mobilizations have promised to intensify their fight until the measure is abandoned.
According to the government, the changes aim to correct an imbalance that has given too much power to the courts and allowed them to interfere in the legislative process. The review will streamline governance, he added, saying last year’s elections, which returned Netanyahu to power with a narrow majority, give him the mandate to carry out the changes.
Critics say the reform will change the system of checks and balances, giving the prime minister and his government unlimited power and pushing the country towards authoritarianism.