Israelis protest against govt judicial reform plan

Jerusalem, Feb 5 : Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in several cities to protest the government's plan to reform the judicial system. The largest protest is being held in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, which was attended by thousands of people, Xinhua news agency reported. Demonstrators have rallied for five weeks in a row to voice their discontent with the judicial reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. They say the reforms will weaken the courts and give the ruling coalition more power. "These people (protestors) came to save our country," said former Prime Minister Yair Lapid at the demonstration in Haifa, northern Israel. "We will fight this in the parliament and the courts ... and we will save our country." Netanyahu and his partners say the changes are necessary in order to limit the judicial system's power, which has become too powerful in recent decades. They also say the supreme court often intervenes in political issues that should be determined by the parliament. Netanyahu has vowed to push forward with the reforms despite the protests. Netanyahu himself is facing a trial on corruption charges. While he denies any wrongdoing, his opponents say the reforms are personally motivated. The reforms include giving the parliament the ability to override supreme court rulings with a simple majority, greater influence for politicians in the appointment of supreme court judges. In addition, legal advisers to ministries will be political appointments instead of civil servants. All could enable Netanyahu to influence the outcome of his own case. According to Israeli media reports, doctors and lawyers will stage symbolic strikes next week to protest against the reforms. Israel's tech sector has also staged demonstrations against the plans, claiming they will harm the economy. /IANS


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