Israeli protesters block highways in ‘day of disruption’ against judiciary overhaul plan

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli protesters blocked highways and gathered outside the stock exchange and military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday in the latest nationwide demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial overhaul.

The latest ‘day of disruption’ came as longtime allies of the Prime Minister pushed a controversial bill through a parliamentary committee ahead of a vote scheduled for next week.

Additional protests are planned throughout the day.

Protesters, many of them military reservists, created human chains and blocked one of the entrances to the Kirya, Israel’s military headquarters in central Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu leads the most ultra-nationalist and religiously conservative government in Israel’s 75-year history. He proposed a series of drastic changes to the country’s justice system shortly after taking office in December. His government took office the day after the country’s fifth elections in less than four years, all seen as referendums on his fitness to serve as prime minister while he was on trial for corruption.

Weekly mass protests led Netanyahu to suspend the overhaul in March, but he decided to relaunch the plan last month after compromise talks with the political opposition broke down.

The proposed laws would give lawmakers greater control over the appointment of judges and give parliament the power to overrule high court decisions and pass laws impervious to judicial review.

The bill making its way through parliament this week would eliminate the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn government decisions it deems unreasonable. Judges used this “reasonableness clause” to strike down the appointment of a key Netanyahu ally as interior minister after he accepted a plea deal for tax evasion in 2021.

He and his allies say the measures are needed to rein in an overly militant Supreme Court made up of unelected justices. Critics say the judicial overhaul will concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies and undermine the country’s system of checks and balances.

They also say Netanyahu has a conflict of interest because he is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

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