Israel is rocked by massive protests against justice reform. The night from Sunday to Monday was marked by clashes between demonstrators and police in Tel Aviv. “We witnessed very difficult scenes last night,” said Isaac Herzog, the country’s president, on Twitter, for whom the “entire nation is in the grip of deep concern”.
“Our security, our economy and our society are all threatened”, adds the president, who solemnly appeals “to the Prime Minister, to the members of the government and to those of the majority” to “immediately stop” the examination of the project in Parliament “in the name of the unity of the people of Israel. For his part, the head of the big trade union center calls for an immediate “general strike”.
Isaac Herzog plays an essentially ceremonial role and his repeated calls to find a compromise solution on the reform have so far been without effect and have not prevented the country from slipping little by little into crisis. He had recently worried about a risk of “civil war”. According to Israeli media, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to speak publicly on Monday morning, and he may accept a pause in reform.
One of the largest popular mobilization movements
Thousands of people took to the streets in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening after Binyamin Netanyahu sacked his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who the previous day had publicly pleaded for a pause in reform, expressing fears for Israel’s security.
The reform bill proposed by the Prime Minister’s government, one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history, aims to increase the power of elected officials over that of judges. Contested in the street for almost three months, he is at the origin of one of the greatest popular mobilization movements in the history of Israel. But, a sign that the legislative process has not yet been halted, the Parliamentary Law Commission voted Monday morning in favor of one of the central elements of the reform, at the heart of the concerns of its detractors: the bill modifying the judicial appointment process.
Strong allies of Israel, the United States declared themselves “deeply concerned”, and underlined “the urgent need for a compromise”. “Democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the relationship between the United States and Israel,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson warned Sunday. “Fundamental changes for a democratic system should be carried out with the broadest possible base of popular support,” she stressed.