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Israel PM cancels speech in Tel Aviv over fear of protests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a scheduled speech sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Tel Aviv after reports that attendees and others planned to protest his appearance.

The protesters planned to block roads, heckle and stand in black T-shirts that declare “democracy” in Hebrew to express their opposition to Netanyahu's 'judicial reforms'.

Protest organizers said in a statement they suspected the cancelation of the Israeli prime minister's Sunday speech was a ruse and would not change their protest plans.

Without giving any explanation, the JFNA said that Netanyahu had “informed us that he is not able to appear.”

In a message to the participants, the organizers of the event added that they look forward to hearing from President Isaac Herzog tonight.

Herzog has called on Netanyahu and his allies to back down from the proposed judicial overhaul that has sparked unprecedented street protests across Israel for months and international condemnation.

The cancellation announcement came after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the occupied territories on Saturday for the 16th consecutive week against Netanyahu's 'judicial reforms'.

Demonstrators held banners with the words “Crime Minister” overlaid on Netanyahu’s face.

The protests have already spread to all social strata across the occupied territories. Thousands of officers in reserve units of the regime's military have said they will refuse to report for duty. High-tech business leaders and the security establishment have also come out against the proposal while trade unions have called for a general strike.

A poll released on Friday showed the reforms are deeply unpopular, with 53 percent saying they believe the plan will be harmful. Additionally, 48 percent of respondents believed the situation across the occupied territories will continue to get worse.

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