Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to reform Israel’s judicial system are expected to gather in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening for another “March of the Million” mega-rally.
“On the eve of the conclusion of the legislative proceedings [to cancel the] reasonableness ground, the entire national camp will come to Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv,” organizers announced.
“Stand alongside the heads of the national camp and the Knesset members of the coalition and tell them: The people are with you! Complete the legislation! Sixty-four mandates are not second-class citizens,” continued the flier, which was signed by 29 Zionist NGOs.
Confirmed participants include Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, Education Minister Yoav Kish and Women’s Advancement Minister May Golan. Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman also called on their followers to take to the streets.
“My dear supporters of the [judicial] reform. We will get together in Tel Aviv on the evening of Sunday, the 23rd of July, to declare again, with a strong voice, [that we are] in favor of the reform,” Levin said in a video shared on social media. “For true democracy. For respecting the result of the election!”
Meanwhile, dozens of senior rabbis within the Religious Zionist movement urged the faithful to attend. “By the grace of God, the people of Israel have elected a Jewish and national government that will work for the Torah of Israel, the people of Israel and the Land of Israel, they wrote in an ad published on Thursday, stressing that “everyone’s attendance is important.”
The previous large-scale protest in support of judicial reform, which took place near the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 27, was attended by some 600,000 people, organizers said, putting to bed claims by the opposition that Israeli citizens are united against the plan. It also provided much-needed backing to Netanyahu’s conservative government.
On Sunday, right-wing activists once again hope to recapture the narrative after 28 weeks of anti-reform protests have grabbed headlines not only in the Jewish state but worldwide.
Some seen holding PLO flags
Earlier this week, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved for final readings a bill to limit the Supreme Court’s use of the reasonableness standard. With nine lawmakers voting in favor and seven opposed, the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary will now head back to the plenum for the second and third readings needed for it to become law.
Coalition members welcomed the approval. “We did it. A holiday for democracy and all of Israel! Many thanks to the dedicated chairman of the committee, Simcha Rothman, for the hard work, on Monday in the plenary!” stated coalition whip MK Ofir Katz of Likud.
Critics say the reasonableness standard is legally vague and has been used by the court to encroach upon the government’s authority. However, opponents say the legislation will erode Israel’s system of checks and balances, and lead to abuse of power.
In response to the Knesset’s advancement of the proposal, anti-judicial reform activists announced a “Night of Disruption” on Thursday with demonstrations planned throughout Israel. Around 5 p.m., protesters began blocking traffic on central roads.
Furthermore, hundreds of demonstrators are planning a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Thursday night. The parade will leave from Kaplan Street at 8:30 p.m. and follow the route of Road 1, according to protest leaders.
In related news, on Tuesday, a handful of anti-reform protesters reportedly raised the PLO flag in the heart of Tel Aviv, drawing ire on social media. The incident marked at least the second time that multiple left-wing protesters sported the Palestinian banner.
Six months ago, Channel 14 correspondent Moti Kastel asked a group of judicial reform opponents in Tel Aviv whether they weren’t “ashamed” to be waving such flags, particularly in the aftermath of a terror attack that killed seven Jewish worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue just a days earlier.
“Not at all,” one protester answered. “I’m proud of it. We [Israelis] murder in return.” Another replied by pointing to the “murder” of nine Palestinian terrorists in Jenin.