Israelis protest now-frozen judicial reform for 13th week

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Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday for a 13th straight week against a controversial judicial overhaul that has now been frozen by the government while talks are underway with party representatives.

Carrying Israeli flags, people marched through Israel’s commercial center, chanting “democracy” and carrying placards criticizing the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Smaller rallies were held in other cities.

Demonstrations flared in January after the coalition announced its reform package, which the government says is necessary to rebalance powers between lawmakers and the judiciary.

The proposed amendments would limit the authority of the Supreme Court and give politicians additional powers in the selection of judges, which could endanger Israeli democracy, according to opponents.

On Monday, Netanyahu announced a “pause” in passing the necessary legislation through parliament, in the face of an angry general strike sparked by his announcement that he was firing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for asking for such a pause. .

By Tuesday, representatives of most parties in parliament had begun talks at the residence of President Isaac Herzog to try to formulate legislation that would be acceptable to both sides of the political spectrum.

There was no immediate indication of the size of Saturday’s demonstration compared to previous weeks.

Many political commentators and opponents have expressed doubts about the chances of Herzog’s mediation efforts, and the coalition government has said it would complete the legislation in the next parliamentary session if talks fail.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has not given Gallant the letter of dismissal required by law, so the defense minister is carrying out his duties as usual.

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