Tel Aviv (AP) — Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered on Saturday for the relentless weekly protests against their government’s plans to overhaul the legal system.
The mass protests entered their 21st week. This week’s rallies come days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition of ultra-Orthodox and ultranationalist parties passed a new two-year budget.
The main protest took place in Tel Aviv, drawing thousands of flag-waving protesters.
The passing of the new budget could grant some stability to Israel’s most hard-line government ever. However, it also appeared to fuel the protesters’ views that Netanyahu appeals to his religious allies rather than address the wider economic woes of the broader society.
“If Israel takes too much power for its own, (our country) will basically become like Poland or Hungary, and we don’t want that,” said Aylon Argaman, a protester.
Organizers of grassroot protests bill them as a movement to save democracy. They say the government’s plans to weaken the Supreme Court would destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and compromise Israeli democracy.
Proponents of the judicial overhaul say it is needed to rein in an overzealous Supreme Court.
Netanyahu delayed the proposed changes in March, but protest organizers say they want to keep the demonstrations up until the plans are scrapped.
“The government may think we’re starting to get tired after 21 weeks, but even if we are tired, democracy is still more important to us,” said Omer Kidron, another protester.