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Netanyahu's 'judicial coup' sparks fresh thousands-strong protest for 12th consecutive week

Tens of thousands of demonstrators throng the heart of Tel Aviv for the 12th straight week of protests against the hard-right Israeli cabinet’s controversial judicial reforms (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of demonstrators have held a fresh protest across Tel Aviv in the occupied territories, blasting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for pressing on with his highly controversial and unpopular "judicial reforms."

The demonstration was held in the coastal city on Saturday evening for the 12th straight week after Netanyahu announced the so-called reforms that he claims seek to improve the balance of power between politicians and the regime's Supreme Court.

The changes are slated to rob the court of the power to overrule decisions made by Israel's new extremist cabinet and the Knesset. They will also enable lawmakers to override the court's rulings with a simple majority, while giving them a bigger say in the selection committee that appoints the judges.

The Knesset is set to vote on the central part of the legal proposals next week, which foresees changing the way judges are appointed.

During the Saturday demonstration, Josh Drill, a spokesman for the Umbrella Movement of protests, said the reforms were about to turn the occupying regime into what he called "a dictatorship."

"Even if they do pass the judicial coup, this protest is not going anywhere," he added.

To appease the protesters, a parliamentary committee has amended the draft law to make it more palatable, but the opposition has ruled out backing any part of the reform package until all legislative steps are halted.

Demonstrators have also announced a "paralysis week," including rallies and protests outside ministers' homes as well as outside the parliament.

Defending the reforms on Thursday, Netanyahu alleged that the changes "do not take control of the court, but balance and diversify it."

He also vowed that his cabinet remained determined to "responsibly advance the ... reform that will restore the proper balance between the authorities."

Israeli minister calls for revocation of "reforms"

In a related development on Saturday, the regime's minister of military affairs, Yoav Gallant, called on the regime's far-right cabinet to halt the legislation, saying the bitter dispute it has caused is posing a threat to the occupying regime itself.

"The deepening split is seeping into the military...," he said, adding that the reforms posed "a clear, immediate, and real danger" to the regime.

Gallant was apparently referring to a wave of Israeli forces, who have pledged not to heed call-ups for military reserve duty if the reforms proceed.

According to the minister, the reforms, therefore, could weaken the regime's war readiness.

Gallant's remarks revealed serious cracks in Netanyahu's coalition cabinet. Following his statement, far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on the premier to fire Gallant.

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