Tens of thousands of Israelis marched into Jerusalem on Saturday, completing a four-day hike from Tel Aviv to the ancient capital city to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s renewed effort to increase his control over Israel’s Supreme Court.
The demonstrators assembled around the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, ahead of a vote scheduled for Monday on a bill from Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government that would strip the Supreme Court of its power to declare government decisions “unreasonable.” That is one of few checks on Israeli prime ministers in a country without a written constitution or bill of rights.
💥Entering Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/mjNg6YuEr0
— Noga Tarnopolsky נגה טרנופולסקי نوغا ترنوبولسكي💙 (@NTarnopolsky) July 22, 2023
Protesters also gathered in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and elsewhere in Israel to try to head off the judicial takeover. Israeli military reservists, including hundreds of pilots, have pledged to suspend their volunteer service if Netanyahu moves ahead with his power grab. Israeli health care workers also have begun striking.
Tel Aviv now! Pro-democracy protest in Israel. pic.twitter.com/DPmPvYxTqA
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) July 15, 2023
President Joe Biden has warned Netanyahu against ramming through his proposal, through emissaries and recent remarks to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, warning it will damage US support for Israel.
Tuesday night ~100 people left Tel Aviv & started marching to Jerusalem in protest at Netanyahu govt’s judicial overhaul. It’s now 10s of thousands. They’ll arrive in Jlem this eve & their plan is to stay there thru Monday, protesting, a la Tahrir Sq pic.twitter.com/C3QzUIppIu
— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) July 22, 2023
Netanyahu previously delayed his overhaul efforts in March in the face of massive protests. But he renewed his efforts, and vowed Thursday to press ahead despite the protests and polls showing two-thirds of Israelis want him to leave the courts alone.
Though the size of Saturday’s protest was not immediately clear, the protest have been massive relevant to Israel’s population of barely 9 million. More than 20 percent of Israelis have reportedly taken part in protests. As a percentage of population, that’s more than double the top estimates of the 15 to 26 million Americans who took part in Black Lives Matters protests, estimated to be largest in US history.