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Tens of thousands hold massive protests against Netanyahu’s ‘judicial reforms’ for 7th straight week

A protester dressed up as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a prison uniform, takes part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv on February 18, 2023 against the so-called judicial reforms planned by his extremist cabinet. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of protesters have held fresh massive rallies in several cities across the occupied territories for the seventh straight week against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to manipulate the regime's judicial system.

The demonstrators took to the streets across the coastal cities of Tel Aviv and Netanya, as well as the holy occupied city of al-Quds in the run-up to a parliamentary vote on the premier's so-called judicial reforms.

The reforms aim to empower Knesset (the Israeli parliament) and the regime's executive officials to circumvent the Supreme Court's decisions, in addition to giving the parliamentarians a decisive say in the appointment of judges.

The opponents of Netanyahu and his cabinet of hard-right and ultra-Orthodox parties, which rose to power late December, denounce the so-called reforms as a means of "cancelling the courts."

In the occupied city of al-Quds, hundreds protested against Netanyahu's plan outside the residence of the regime's president, while a smaller group of right-wing demonstrators held a rally nearby calling for dialogue.

The protesters also say the premier seeks to enact the reforms in order to be able to deflect the fallout from his indictment in 2019 for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Speaking to protesters in Netanya, opposition leader Yair Lapid tied the proposed reforms to Netanyahu's ongoing corruption trial.

"The fact they have a majority in parliament doesn't mean...they can erase the Supreme Court just because the prime minister has been indicted," he said.

Netanyahu and proponents of the reforms, however, say those opposing them do so because they cannot accept their defeat in last November's elections.

Also on Saturday, Justice Minister Yariv Levin told the regime's Channel 13, "I'm determined to complete the legislation," saying he would not give in to "threats and dictations from the street."

The Israeli regime's President Isaac Herzog has urged Netanyahu's cabinet to suspend the legislative process and hold talks with the opposition in hopes of reaching a compromise.

The cabinet has not ruled out negotiation, but has refused to either call off or delay the vote on the reforms, which has been scheduled for Monday.

Anti-Netanyahu protests have become a weekly fixture on Saturday evenings since his new extremist cabinet took office.

In 2019, Netanyahu refused to step down when he became the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted for corruption while in office.

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