Opponents of judicial reform march to Jerusalem

by Dan Williams

HEMED, Israel (Reuters) – Several hundred Israelis protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform turned toward Jerusalem on Saturday, where the Israeli parliament sits, after launching a march from Tel Aviv earlier in the week.

Demonstrations against the bill have intensified this week as a final vote on the legislation, which has already passed its first reading, is set to take place on Monday.

Demonstrators carrying Israeli flags marched in a mile-long column chanting anti-government slogans on the main road leading to Jerusalem under a scorching sun on Saturday.

Protesters began the 70km-long march from Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening, and camped overnight in nearby parks or farmland as residents offered them food and drink.

They plan to hold a rally outside Parliament ahead of the commencement of consideration of the bill on Sunday.

Asked if he thought the protesters could block the passage of the law, Shikma Bressler, one of the organizers, said he didn’t know.

“But voting is not the last step,” he told Reuters. “That is why we are trying to create forces in this country that will choose good over evil, light over darkness.”

The reform bill – promoted by opponents as an attack on the independence of the courts and by Benjamin Netanyahu as a way to balance the branches of government – has sparked a six-month constitutional crisis and raised concerns in the United States about the hard-right coalition surrounding the Israeli prime minister.

(Written by Mayan Lubel; French edition by Kate Enteringer)

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