Tens of thousands demonstrate against Israel’s new far-right government in Tel Aviv

Tens of thousands demonstrate against Israel’s new far-right government in Tel Aviv

Tens of thousands demonstrate against Israel’s new far-right government in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv — Tens of thousands of Israelis turned out in the rain Saturday night to protest the new government – led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – which includes far-right, ultra-conservative and religious parties. The policies proposed by the Netanyahu coalition pose a threat to democracy and human rights in Israel, protesters say.

More than 80,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv, according to local media, and smaller protests took place outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem and Haifa.

“This is a fight for our homes, for our future, for the future of our children,” Victor, 46, told CBS News.

Protest against Netanyahu's government in Israel
People stage a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 14, 2023.

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Among what protesters oppose are proposed judicial reforms that critics say would undermine Israel’s Supreme Court and Israel’s system of democratic checks and balances. The reforms would give Israel’s parliament the power to overrule Supreme Court decisions by simple majority vote, as well as the power to appoint judges.

“It’s the same way every modern liberal democracy has fallen,” Victor said. “That’s the first step… Divide and untie the different branches of government.”

The country was facing the “highest possible stakes”, added Victor.

Netanyahu, 73, who has been back in power in Israel for about two weeks, is in his third term as prime minister and was elected despite the criminal charges of corruption. Critics say his coalition’s proposed overhaul could make those accusations go away.

Netanyahu’s return to power was made possible by a coalition of far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties who have announced plans to roll back a number of social reforms that, if passed, would undermine women’s rights and LGBTQ+ people, and expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is against international law.

“We came to protest against the intentions and attempts of the government to politicize the judicial system, to weaken the Supreme Court, to politically influence the process of electing judges, thus making it more difficult for minorities to express themselves, to defend citizens against authorities or government oppression,” Dan, a pediatric dentist, who was protesting with his daughter, Tamar, told CBS News.

There was a heavy police presence in Tel Aviv ahead of Saturday’s protest, with traffic jammed on surrounding roads. Law enforcement sources told Israeli media that law enforcement was instructed to be “very sensitive” and to let the protest proceed peacefully. There was no news of significant violence or injuries, local media said.

“What’s happening is really a direct threat to minority groups, to Palestinians as well,” said Tamar, 26, a master’s student in Middle Eastern history. “It is important to highlight that there is a voice within the Jewish community. Also thinking of the Palestinians and supporting their freedom and basic human rights, and the LGBTQ community, women. I mean, this coalition is extremely far-right, extremely religious.”

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