Judicial overhaul backers rally in Tel Aviv, urge end to ‘High Court’s dictatorship’

‘We must end their intervention — reform now,’ far-right leader Itamar Ben Gvir says in speech in which he assails AG and other officials, amid stalled talks on compromise

Supporters of the government's judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Supporters of the government's judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Supporters of the government’s push to radically remake the judiciary rallied Thursday in Tel Aviv, calling for the coalition to advance the highly contentious overhaul amid stalled negotiations with the opposition on a compromise.

The demonstration included a march and speeches by a number of coalition lawmakers. Channel 12 news estimated turnout at several hundred protesters.

“End the High Court’s dictatorship!” protesters chanted. “The nation demands judicial reform!”

A group of protesters wore orange prison jumpsuits while some female rally-goers donned crowns and dresses in an apparent response to “The Handmaid’s Tail” outfits that have become a feature at anti-overhaul demonstrations.

Addressing the crowd, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir railed at Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and other officials for opposing various measures he’s pushed on grounds they do not meet legal muster.

“We must end their intervention — reform now!” said Ben Gvir, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit party. “We must win.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during a rally in support of the government’s judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

MK Tally Gotliv of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party also assailed Baharav-Miara, issuing a fresh call for her dismissal.

“A strong right wing doesn’t leave in power an official appointed by Gideon Sa’ar,” Gotliv said, referring to the former justice minister who is now an opposition MK. “A strong right wing is not scared of the High Court and does not ask the president’s permission to pass laws.”

“I came to remind Knesset members that they must stand behind their promises,” she added.

Supporters of the government’s judicial overhaul rally in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The rally — dubbed the “governance march” — came after opponents of the judicial shakeup staged small protests earlier Thursday outside events attended by two government ministers, heckling them as they tried to speak.

A protest rally was also held outside the home of Moshe Koppel, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank that has spearheaded much of the effort behind the reforms.

The government says the overhaul is needed to rein in what it sees as an over-intrusive High Court of Justice. Critics say it will sap the court’s power to act as a check and balance against the Knesset, dangerously harming Israel’s democratic nature.

The overhaul has been on hold since late March while negotiations are held with opposition parties for agreed-upon changes to the justice system, but with no announced progress in talks yet. Netanyahu and other coalition figures have vowed that reforms will be enacted even without an agreement.

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