Over 150,000 people from all over Israel held a demonstration in Jerusalem this evening in support of the government’s plans to overhaul the country’s judicial system. Channel 12 News quotes a police source as estimating the crowd at between 150,000 and 200,000.
Among the speakers were the two people who have been pushing the measures through the Knesset, Minister of Justice Yariv Levin, and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairperson Simcha Rothman. Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir also spoke. Many coalition members of Knesset attended the demonstration, among them David Amsalem, Revital (Tali) Gottlieb, and Moshe Saada, and ministers Israel Katz, Idit Silman, and Galit Distel Atbaryan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend the demonstration, but sent a message of support. The haredi newspaper “Yated Ne’eman”, which is associated with the United Torah Judaism party, a partner in the coalition, called on the haredi public not to take part in the rally.
A group of academics marched from the Bridge of Strings at the entrance to Jerusalem to the area around the Knesset where the main rally took place. Among the participants were Nobel prizewinner Prof. Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, former rector of Bar-Ilan University Prof. Hanoch Lavi, Prof. Tzila Sinwani-Stern and Prof. Talia Einhorn. “We have come to protest against the dictatorship of unelected people who force their stance on the public,” Prof. Aumann said.
“I am convinced that we are capable of reaching reform by agreement,” Yariv Levin said in his speech. “Agreement means businesslike negotiation and readiness to amend substantial elements of the reform, and not to conduct discussions for more than a month and say no to every proposal.” Levin was booed for expressing readiness to reach agreement, and the crowd shouted at him “We want legal reform.”
“We want to send a message to those who are afraid of the results of the reform,” Levin continued. “I wish to turn to them. They tell us that the reform is designed to take over the court. The opposite is true. We want a court for everybody – liberal, conservative, right, left, everybody. They say that the reform is designed to force the way of life of one community on another. The opposite is true. There is no coercion in this reform. There is no greater lie than that there will be a dictatorship if the reform passes. Show me one democracy in which legal advisers decide instead of the government.”
Levin attacked decisions of the Supreme Court. “We want a court that does not award rights to the families of the terrorists, that does not permit pretend memorial ceremonies together with supporters of terrorism. Addressing Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli, Levin said, “Join us – a court that shows concern for the old lady in south Tel Aviv and not for the infiltrators who harm her. A court that protects the lives of IDF soldiers and not the neighbors of the terrorists.” Levin said he was coping with incitement and vilification. “It only strengthens me,” he said. “Every day that goes by shows how right our way is. I shall continue and do all in my power to bring about the change required in the legal system”
“Mending the legal system is my life’s work, and I shall continue to advance it in every possible way” Rothman said.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on April 27, 2023.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.