On March 15, 2023, a demonstration was held outside Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv by detractors of the Israeli government against judicial reform that would limit the prerogatives of the Supreme Court. Protesters held up signs with phrases such as “Dictator on the run” and “Don’t come back this way!” at the airport terminals. Since the announcement of the legislative bill in early January, there have been several mass demonstrations in the country, where the population sees the reform as a threat to democracy.
During the afternoon, a convoy of vehicles with Israeli flags circulated between the airport terminals, making access to the airport difficult. This convoy was composed of Israeli army veterans, some of whom participated in the 1976 operation in Entebbe, Uganda, to free hostages from a Tel Aviv-Paris flight. The protesters denounce not only the reform of the judicial system but also the general policy of the government and accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of corruption in a number of cases, seeking to use the law to nullify an eventual trial that could convict him.
On Tuesday, Parliament approved in first reading a provision that would allow the annulment of certain Supreme Court decisions by a simple majority, i.e., 61 deputies out of 120. This provision has been criticized by opponents of judicial reform, who believe that this measure could be used to interfere in the judicial system and reduce its independence.
In short, the March 15 demonstration is just one more sign of Israeli citizens’ dissatisfaction with the government’s proposed judicial reform and the government’s overall policy. The approval on first reading of the provision that would allow the Supreme Court’s decisions to be overturned by a simple majority has increased the concerns of the reform’s opponents about the independence of the judicial system in Israel.
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