‘Save Israel’s democracy from Netanyahu’: Anti-govt protests in Israel continue for fifth week

Anti-government protests in Israel against the controversial legal reforms continued for the fifth week on Saturday (February 4) with thousands of demonstrators, braving the rain, swarming Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, with signs criticising the establishment. One of the signs labelled the government as a “threat to world peace,” while another “Save Israel’s democracy from Netanyahu,” news agency AFP reported early Sunday. 

On Saturday, protests were held in 20 cities across Israel and tens of thousands gathered in Tel Aviv alone, as per local media. However, the official turnout figures are not out yet. 

Speaking to AFP, Dania Shwartz, 44, from Ramat Gan said that protesters were “reclaiming” the Israeli flag. “If you look around there’s a lot of Israeli flags and for many years the Israeli flag was a symbol of the right (wing),” Shwartz said. “We are patriots and we want this country to keep existing. The Israeli flag belongs to all of us, this is not a question of being right or left,” she added. 

The 44-year-old, a member of the LGBTQ community, expressed concerns that the new government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to pass laws that would affect her children. “For example, the Noam party wants to delegitimise families like ours and it’s very scary,” Shwartz further told the news agency, referring to one of the government’s coalition partners which is known for its anti-gay stance.

The judicial reforms by the current government would parliament to overrule any Supreme Court decision with a simple majority of 61 lawmakers in the 120-seat body. These proposed reforms would also change the system through which judges are appointed, giving politicians more control. Protesters, meanwhile, pointed out that the reforms would threaten democratic checks and balances on ministers by the courts. They also accused Netanyahu of trying to escape a legal case against him, the news agency Reuters reported. 

Ex-PM Yair Lapid joins protests

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid took part in the demonstrations in Hafia where he said that protesters “came to save their country, and we came to protest with them.” “We will save our country because we are unwilling to live in an undemocratic country,” Lapod added. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the protests by saying they are a refusal by opposition leaders to accept the results of the election held in November last year. 

(With inputs from agencies)


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