Monday, 25 Sep 2023 - 10 of Tishri, 5784

Protests in Jerusalem ahead of final votes on ‘reasonableness’ bill

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Thousands of demonstrators descend on the capital as the Knesset plenum prepares to advance a judicial reform bill.

By JNS

Several streets in Jerusalem were blocked to traffic on Sunday after thousands of demonstrators descended upon Israel’s capital the previous evening.

“Many police officers will secure the protests and work to direct the traffic and maintain public order,” the Israel Police said in a statement.

Many of the protesters marched the 40 miles (64 km) from Tel Aviv, with others joining along the way. The protesters pitched tents at Gan Sacher Park near the Knesset, Supreme Court and other government institutions.

On Saturday night, simultaneous protests against the government’s judicial reform initiative occurred across the country for the 29th consecutive week, with multiple arrests following clashes with police.

Also on Sunday morning, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Western Wall for a communal prayer, including National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz. They were to form a human chain after the prayers.

“There is a rift in the nation and it must be treated. Netanyahu must stop the legislation,” he told Channel 12 news.

A group of medical professionals called the “White Coats” announced a protest in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon at the Chords Bridge.

A woman was arrested in Ra’anana on Sunday morning after blocking the entrance to the home of World Likud chairman Knesset member Danny Danon.

Members of the “Brothers in Arms” reservist and Israeli reserve soldiers hold a press conference in Herzliya,

The demonstration outside the Knesset comes ahead of the second and third readings in the plenum on a bill to limit the Supreme Court’s use of the reasonableness standard. Debate on the proposed legislation was taking place on Sunday, with the final vote expected to take place on Monday.

The coalition government wants to pass the bill into law before the Knesset goes into recess on July 30.

Meanwhile, a group of 10,000 reservists from 40 military units announced on Saturday evening that they would not show up for duty if the reasonableness bill passes into law. This comes after Friday’s announcement that over 1,000 Israeli Air Force pilots will suspend their reserve service should the judicial reform effort advance.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi was reportedly going to brief Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the reservist situation on Sunday, but that meeting was canceled due to the premier being hospitalized overnight for a procedure to implant a pacemaker.

Doctors at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan said that they expected to discharge the 73-year-old Netanyahu later on Sunday.

“The procedure was successful and without complications, the prime minister’s condition is good and he will remain in the cardiology department for observation,” the hospital said.

During the operation, which was carried out under general anesthesia, Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Yariv Levin acted in Netanyahu’s place.

In a video statement on Saturday night, Netanayahu said that he was expected to be released from the hospital on Sunday in time to attend scheduled Knesset votes. However, in addition to the meeting with Halevi and other heads of the security establishment, the weekly Cabinet meeting was postponed, as was a meeting of the Likud faction.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly visited Netanyahu in the hospital, threatening to withhold his vote on the “reasonableness” bill unless it is postponed or softened, Kan News reported, citing coalition sources. However, sources close to Gallant said that he is trying to garner wide support for the bill and that the Sunday morning visit was not about his vote.

On Saturday night, the coalition warned that any minister voting against the proposed legislation would be fired, including Gallant.

Following the votes in the Knesset on the “reasonableness” bill, Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to Cyprus on Tuesday, before departing from Israel for Turkey on Friday.

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