Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered near the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Thursday evening to demonstrate in favor of judicial reform.
Protesters voiced opposition to the court’s decision to weigh in on legislation related to the reform, a move they say threatens to overturn the will of the electorate.
They carried signs such as, “Supreme Court, you won’t cancel me,” “We’re not second-class citizens: The people chose judicial reform” and, “Supreme Court, don’t destroy democracy.”
Text on posters leading up to the event read: “Freedom rally. They won’t steal our vote.”
One of the organizers of the rally, political activist Berale Crombie, who also organized the first large pro-reform protest on April 27, tweeted a message shortly before Thursday’s protest: “Don’t let the Supreme Court trample us.”
The demonstrators were particularly incensed by the court’s decision to interfere in Basic Laws. According to the court’s own theory, it derives its power to strike down regular laws from Basic Laws. Critics say it would be like the U.S. Supreme Court declaring a constitutional amendment “unconstitutional.”
Likud Knesset member Avihai Boaron, another of the rally’s organizers, told the crowd, “The question is not whether we will respect the High Court’s decision, but whether the High Court will accept the people’s position.
“If the court rejects the fundamental laws, it will be the one responsible and guilty for the anarchy that will be created. We call from here to the Supreme Court: Don’t bring us to chaos. Don’t harm the unity of Israel. Don’t trample the majority in Israel,” he said.
Minister of Settlements and National Missions Orit Strock of the Religious Zionism Party said: “I want to ask for your forgiveness. You voted for the Knesset as is expected in a democratic country. Every ballot slip you put in clearly said, ‘Reform the judicial system.’ You are not supposed to be here, you are supposed to be sitting at home.
“But there are people here who do not know how to accept the majority decision. They shout ‘Democracy’ but actually demand a dictatorship. I promise you that we will respect your ballot, your decision. We will respect democracy. We will bring what you sent us to bring,” Strock added.
On Sept. 12, the Supreme Court justices will hear petitions asking them to cancel the “reasonableness law.”
All 64 members of the coalition, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, passed the law, an amendment to a Basic Law, which bars “reasonableness” as a legal pretext to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and certain elected officials.
Demonstrators also protested the Supreme Court’s decision to hold a hearing on the so-called recusal law, scheduled for Sept. 28.
In March, the Knesset passed, again as an amendment to a Basic Law, legislation limiting the circumstances under which a sitting premier can be removed from office.
It stipulates that only the Cabinet, and not the Supreme Court or the attorney general, has the authority to declare a sitting prime minister unfit to serve, and then only in cases of physical or mental incapacity.