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Israelis continue to protest against the new government


TEL AVIV, Israel — Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to overhaul the judiciary, moves opponents say threaten the country’s democratic foundations.

According to Israeli media, some 100,000 people were protesting, according to police.

The protest followed another demonstration last week that also drew tens of thousands in an early challenge to Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox government — the most right-wing in Israeli history.

The government says a power imbalance has given government judges and legal advisers too much influence over legislation and administration. Netanyahu has promised to push through with the changes despite the opposition.

Demonstrators filled the central streets of the seaside metropolis, raising Israeli flags and banners reading “The Supreme Court” and “Israel, we have a problem.”

“All generations are concerned. This is not a joke,” said Lior Student, a protester. “This is a complete redefinition of democracy.”

Other protests took place in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.

In addition to the protests, pressure on Netanyahu’s government has increased after the country’s attorney general asked Netanyahu to fire a key cabinet ally following a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from holding government office due to a conviction for tax violations.

While Netanyahu was expected to comply with the court’s ruling, it only deepened the divide in the country over the justice system and the power of the courts.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, vowed to press ahead with judicial review plans despite the protests. Opponents say the changes could help Netanyahu avoid conviction in his corruption trial, or make the lawsuit disappear altogether.

One protester said she thinks the judicial changes are designed to protect Netanyahu. “The goal is to save only one person – this is Mr. Netanyahu, from his trial, and that’s why I’m here.”

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