Israelis protesting against judicial reform

They blocked highways, tunnels and the road leading to the IDF headquarters. They crowded outside the homes of government ministers, knocked on the glass doors of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and crowded the platforms of major train stations. They waved Israeli flags, creating a sea of ​​blue and white at major intersections in central Israel.

Despite temperatures soaring above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the country, thousands of Israelis staged dozens of rallies across central Israel on Tuesday to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to finalize a law next week that would limit the court’s power. Supreme.

In what has become a regular weekly episode of disruption, protesters have turned out in several cities in a renewed attempt to stop the government from going ahead with a binding vote on the law in parliament, which is likely to be on Monday. This is the 28th consecutive week of protest against the judicial plan.

Some unfurled huge roadside signs reading “Netanyahu Divides the Nation,” while others displayed a giant portrait of Theodore Herzl, the founding father of modern Zionism, emblazoned with the slogan: “That’s not what I meant.”

One group hung a giant copy of Israel’s Declaration of Independence off a highway, and another lay on an access road to the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, briefly blocking traffic. Residents of retirement communities, some of whom use walking structures, protested the roads outside their homes.

Women’s rights activists — dressed in scarlet robes inspired by characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood’s novel about a totalitarian patriarchal state made into a TV series — demonstrated in Raanana, central Israel.

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By afternoon, police said they had arrested 19 protesters for breaching public order. Officers also rallied outside several train stations in an attempt to prevent protesters from gathering on the platforms.

Protesters fear the proposed law will undermine democracy by reducing judicial oversight of the cabinet, allow for expansion of government and pave the way for a more conservative, religious and paternalistic society. Netanyahu’s government says the plan would improve democracy by making elected lawmakers less commendable than unelected judges.

No date was set for the meeting, and the show stopped calling the White House itself. But the news remains a blow to protesters, who had hoped Mr. Biden would use his influence over Mr. Netanyahu to persuade him to suspend the legislative process.

The US government is a key ally of Israel, providing it with nearly $4 billion in annual aid, as well as weapons and defense systems and systematic diplomatic cover in the UN Security Council.

Mr. Biden is set to welcome Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, to the White House on Tuesday, another sign of the two countries’ strong ties.

A coalition of protest movements — whose membership includes groups of authors, economists, political scientists and social workers — published an open letter to Congress on Tuesday, calling on US lawmakers to take a strong stand against Mr. Netanyahu’s domestic policies.

Absent more US involvement, the protest movement is trying to put domestic pressure on Mr Netanyahu through labor unions and military reservists. Thousands of Israeli military reservists have threatened to withdraw from voluntary service if the law continues – a move that could affect the operational capacity of key military sectors, especially the Air Force, which relies heavily on reserve pilots.

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Israel’s trade union, the Histadrut, says it may stage a general strike in protest of the law, a prospect that helped halt an earlier legislative campaign in March.

However, the union has not yet officially confirmed its position. To pressure her to join their cause, some demonstrators gathered outside the Histadrut headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

The Israel Medical Association, a union of some 30,000 doctors, announced that its members would cut medical work by two hours on Wednesday in protest of the judicial legislation.

“We will do everything we can to minimize the impact on patients,” said Leah Wapner, the association’s chief executive.

Gabe Sobelman Contributed reporting from Rehovot, Israel.

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