Civic turmoil in Israel; country witnessing a historic protest over judicial reforms

NEW DELHI: For the first time in known recent times, Israel is witnessing an unprecedented country-wide protest over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu-led ruling government's proposed legislation to overhaul the justice system. 

The legislation, brought in by Netanyahu, has faced massive pushback as it seeks to empower the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, to overturn any verdict by the Supreme Court with a simple majority, also gives the parliament the power to pass laws previously ruled invalid by the court, essentially overturning the Supreme Court decisions.

The bill also seeks to alter the composition of the 9-member committee which appoints judges, with more seats for government representatives. 

Although the protests have been going on for a month now, in the past few days it has gathered a nationwide momentum which has put Netanyahu under massive pressure to withdraw them although he has remained adamant and has even sacked some of his own party members who have turned against the bill. Last week he sacked Israel's defence minister Yoav Gallant who had voiced his opposition to the bill and demanded that it be postponed.

On Monday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog also appealed to prime minister Netanyahu to stop the proposed legislation. 

Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition and former prime minister of the Yesh Atid party has strongly voiced his concern about the sacking of Gallant at this time and has called on Netanyahu to revoke the dismissal of Defence Minister Gallant immediately. 

Lapid has said that the prime minister had sacked the defence minister because he was telling the truth. "Israel could not afford to change its defence minister at this time," he said 

Even as hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets and it is likely to spread among the government staff and even the military. It is reported that Israeli embassies and diplomatic missions around the world have been shut down on Monday, March 27 following a declaration of a strike by the Histadrut labour federation. Even in India, the Israel embassy in Delhi has been instructed to remain closed and will provide no consular service until further notice.

As Israelis from all over the country began descending into Jerusalem and workers from a range of sectors joined the protest movement, Netanyahu on Monday urged protesters to behave responsibly and refrain from violence. 


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