Over 100,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday as mass protests against the Netanyahu government’s controversial judicial reforms enter their sixth week. Demonstrations took place throughout the country, but, as before, Israel’s second city saw the biggest crowds.
As the protests continued, President Isaac Herzog attempted to dampen the temperature of an increasingly acrimonious political debate and called upon the government to halt its plans and seek a consensus. “Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, allow dialogue to take place, because there is a huge majority of the nation that wants dialogue,” the president, a former leader of the Israeli Labor party, suggested.
But Herzog’s words appeared to fall on deaf ears as the justice minister rebuffed the appeal. “Let there be no doubt, we will not suspend the legislation for even a minute,” Yariv Levin told Channel 13 TV.
With protest leaders planning to encourage larger strikes than the largely symbolic, hour-long strikes held by some high-tech companies, senior opposition leader Benny Gantz warned the government against the consequences of it pushing ahead with the reforms.
“If the [legislative] race continues, we will also use the right to strike — and masses of citizens will bring the country to a standstill,” the former defence minister said.