The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Police say in a statement that the Tel Aviv protest has ended, some six hours after actividtd first gathered on Kaplan street and burned tires to protest the passage of the first part of the judicial overhaul.
According to police, 18 arrests were made during the Tel Aviv demonstrations for attacking cops or disturbing public order. A statement says 10 officers were injured in clashes, but does not offer details.
Police have managed to clear all protesters off the Ayalon freeway after pushing them to the side of the road.
Even after leaving the freeway, activists are seen being pushed from the scene where hundreds, if not thousands, remain massed at the interchange, including on the Hashalom bridge, Kaplan junction and highway exit ramps. “Shame,” they chant repeatedly, over the sounds of horns, sirens and vuvuzelas.
The highway, which has been blocked for some four hours, remains a mess, littered with detritus from fires and makeshift barricades, which authorities begin to remove.
There is no immediate estimate on when the highway may reopen.
Police on horseback are in a standoff with hundreds of anti-overhaul activists remaining on the Ayalon freeway, who have been penned in by police cruisers parked behind them.
Cops are mulling possibly using stun grenades to clear the freeway, which would mark a major escalation in police tactics against protesters, Channel 12 news reports, showing an officer in a car holding a box of them.
The devices, which create a loud bang and bright flash to startle targets, are normally used against Palestinian protests.
According to Channel 13 news, there has been a marked uptick in reports of police violence at the Monday night rally.
In the meantime, a police water cannon begins drenching the group again, pushing them further up the highway or off the road.
Police on horseback have begun to clear protesters that retook lanes of the Ayalon freeway, marching in a line and pushing protesters back, as activists try to block the cavalry’s advance.
Police penned in protesters. Charging them with cavalry. pic.twitter.com/UF3Dw4vt3p
— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) July 24, 2023
המכתזית קלטה שאני מתעד אותה בפעולה וכיוונה אלי שפריץ מדויק שמטרתו היתה לפגוע בטלפון שלי כדי להשתיק את התיעוד הבלעדי הזה. הצליח לה 😀 pic.twitter.com/AoXNnx34of
— Yair Tarchitsky (@yairtar) July 24, 2023
An activist with blood streaming down his head and arms is seen being led away by police.
Above, activists gathered on the Hashalom bridge break out into a spontaneous rendition of Hatikva.
At least 15 people have been arrested for breaking the peace and attacking officers, police say as protests on the Ayalon Freeway continue.
Cops have managed to push most protesters off the actual lanes of the highway near the Hashalom interchange, but thousands of activists remain massed along its shoulders under the Hashalom bridge, some occasionally sprinting across the roadway.
Further down the highway, larger groups remain scattered throughout the lanes.
Protesters rebuilding the Ayalon Barricades. pic.twitter.com/0bYbJeHTqo
— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) July 24, 2023
A police water cannon is spraying into the crowd on the side of the highway beneath the Hashalom interchange, seemingly attempting to get the hardy core of protesters to go home.
Reports describe excessive police force as they look to clear the road. Police pushing people off the road also shoved members of the media “brutally,” Channel 12 news reports.
Police say four cops have been lightly injured in clashes.
Estimates are that police will look to redouble efforts and quash the protest for the night in the next few minutes. Many of the protesters have already left, though a large group remains.
Despite ongoing efforts by the police to clear the Ayalon, including with the use of water cannons, mounted police and large numbers of officers, the highway is again blocked.
The protesters, mainly young Israelis, are waving national flags and again lighting bonfires.
After 29 weeks of protests, the anti-overhaul demonstrators have become skilled at dodging the police, moving to different parts of the highway or waiting on the inclines at the side of the road, to return when the opportunity arises.
A police spokesman has told Channel 12 that anybody on the highway now is considered to be breaking the law.
חחח… טיפה ארוך אבל שווה. תראו איזו הפתעה הכינו מפגיני איילון למכתזית שבאה לכבות להם את המדורה… pic.twitter.com/n2eOcTuotC
— Baruch Sharon (@BaruchSharon1) July 24, 2023
Unconfirmed estimates suggest that 10-15,000 Israelis have protested at the Ayalon in the past few hours.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert tells the UK’s Channel 4 News that Israel is entering a civil war after today’s passage of the first bill from the government’s judicial overhaul.
“This is a serious threat. It’s never happened before. We are going into a civil war now — civil disobedience with all of the possible ramifications to the stability of the state and the ability of the government to perform, to the obedience of the large part of the Israeli population to a government which is perceived by a large part of the population to be illegitimate.”
“The government has decided to threaten the foundations of Israeli democracy, and this is not something that we can accept or tolerate,” Olmert says.
“We are going into a civil war now.”
Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert says the country faces civil war as huge protests have flooded the streets in Israel over judicial overhaul. pic.twitter.com/WZ33aItKP7
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 24, 2023
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai has given an order to clear Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway where thousands of anti-overhaul protesters have congregated, his spokesperson tells Channel 12.
Channel 12’s reporter at the scene says that until 10 minutes ago, the police were allowing the protesters to remain on the highway, “and then suddenly everything changed in a second.”
Large numbers of police officers have deployed on the highway, some of them helmeted, to disperse the protesters.
מכתזיות בכינון ישיר לראשי מפגינים. איילון צפון.
קרדיט: אחים לנשק pic.twitter.com/AK6FQoxHDk
— 🏳️🌈🏴ShAuLi (@Shaulirena) July 24, 2023
Footage shows the water cannons firing directly at the protesters, in breach of regulations.
Police are also seen dragging protesters off the road and officers atop horse are seen galloping into crowds, colliding with demonstrators.
The crowd refuses to budge and erupts into the “Democracy or revolution!” chant, as the jubilant crowd on the bridge above bangs on the metal barriers.
At least one protester is injured, as police try to clear the Ayalon Highway.
As the ambulance loads the wounded protester onto a stretcher, the crowd chants “Ben Gvir is a terrorist” and “Shame” at the police officers still trying to keep the crowd off the road. A number of scuffles break out between the police and the crowd, which is largely on the embankments, after water cannons and mounted police were deployed.
Police say they have arrested a pair of anti-overhaul protesters who refused to clear the road at the Ra’anana Junction during a demonstration against the judicial overhaul.
Border Police have arrested three ultranationalist settlers who showed up at the entrance to the northern West Bank Palestinian village of Huwara following a shooting attack at an Israeli bus passing through the town.
No Israelis were injured in the shooting.
ביקום מקביל למחאות הפריבילגים: שלושה תושבים שירדו למחות בכניסה לחווארה יחד עם עשרות נוספים בעקבות פיגוע הירי שהתרחש לפני זמן קצר, נעצרו על ידי חיילים ושוטרי מג"ב. pic.twitter.com/zMxBKjRUvx
— אלישע ירד (@ElishaYered) July 24, 2023
Hundreds of protesters stream onto the Ayalon Highway at the Hashalom Interchange, running down the embankments.
Police fire a water cannon in a failed attempt to try and move them off the highway.
On the bridge above, the crowd chants, “Shame.”
Police say they’ve arrested a suspect for lighting a bonfire on the highway.
Police say that a fight broke out between pro-overhaul protesters and residents of the southern Israeli kibbutz of Hetzarim, during which the head of the town’s security squad fired his gun in the air.
Officers arrived at the scene and restored order, but also detained seven suspects for questioning, police say.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 24, 2023
Thousands of demonstrators block Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway at the Hashalom Interchange by Kaplan Street — the focal point of the Tel Aviv protests against the government’s contentious judicial overhaul.
Crowds on the bridge above the highway cheer as others stream down the streets parallel to the Ayalon, trying to find a way to reach the road via the embankments after police blocked the entrances with trucks and metal barriers.
Multiple bonfires are lit on Kaplan Street and a water cannon begins to move toward the crowd at one end of the road, apparently ahead of its use by police to disperse the demonstrators who have blocked the road for well over three hours.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh weighs in on the Israeli judicial overhaul crisis during a cabinet meeting earlier today:
“Israeli society is paying the price today for its silence over the crimes committed by its extremist government against our people.”
“The criminal ideas and practices practiced by the occupiers [sic] quickly backfire today on their society, which must realize the danger of the ideology embraced by these extremists and work to combat it. Israeli society must put pressure [on its government] to end the occupation of our land and stop committing crimes against our people,” Shtayyeh said according to the Al Quds news site.
Police say they have arrested a suspect in Jerusalem who was allegedly filmed earlier today with an Israeli flagpole smashing the windshield of a vehicle being driven by a woman as her children sat in the back.
סרטון לא קל לצפייה. מפגינים נגד הרפורמה מנפצים שמשה לרכב. סתם.
שלושה ילדים קטנים שצורחים מפחד ואישה צעירה שמתחננת שיתנו לה לעבור. האנשים האלה איבדו את הבלמים pic.twitter.com/PdyWB1YYHq
— kobi bornshtein | קובי בורנשטיין (@kobi_bornshtein) July 24, 2023
Police at an anti-overhaul protest in Tel Aviv are seen blocking Channel 13’s cameraman from filming the brutal arrest of a demonstrator.
Police are seen brutally apprehending the protester before a group of officers walks over and stands with their backs to the incident.
תיעוד מטורף של אלימות שוטרים: לוקחים הצידה מפגין. תופסים ברגליים. כשהוא שרוע על הרצפה וחסר אונים מתחילים להכות באגרופים. וכדי להסתיר מהמצלמות – השוטרים נעמדים בחומה שתסתיר את האלימות. הכל בשידור חי. @Meir_Marciano pic.twitter.com/p3FCRddVfa
— נריה קראוס Neria Kraus (@NeriaKraus) July 24, 2023
Police issue a statement saying that anti-overhaul demonstrators in Tel Aviv are throwing water bottles with sand in them at officers.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) July 24, 2023
The new interim charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Jerusalem says she met earlier today with President Isaac Herzog, who recently returned from a trip to Washington.
“We will continue to support the efforts of President Herzog and other Israeli leaders as they seek to build a broader consensus through political dialogue,” Stephanie Hallett tweets.
As @POTUS said following today’s vote, we will continue to support the efforts of President Herzog & other Israeli leaders as they seek to build a broader consensus through political dialogue. I was honored to meet @Isaac_Herzog earlier today following his visit to Washington. https://t.co/qbOihBdHgT pic.twitter.com/nKh3OeAY6W
— Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Stephanie Hallett (@USAmbIsrael) July 24, 2023
Protesters light bonfires on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street. “We will not give up,” the crowd sings as black smoke fills the air.
Cops are clashing with demonstrators in several spots in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
One clip shows cops throwing burning planks in the direction of protesters as they clear the way near Kaplan Street.
״אני לא בעד שיימינג לשוטרים הם רק עושים את העבודה שלהם״🤡🤡🤡🤡
גם שוטרים: זורקים רפסודה בוערת לעבר מפגינים.
תתביישו אפסים pic.twitter.com/K1pNPP5rPt
— daniel amram – דניאל עמרם (@danielamram3) July 24, 2023
An Israeli-owned bus came under fire while driving through the West Bank town of Huwara, according to medics and local security officials.
The bus sustained at least eight bullets, although there are no injuries, the Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says.
There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the attack.
*מוקד עדכוני יו"ש -*
דיווח ראשוני בבדיקה כי לפני זמן קצר נשמע ירי לעבר אוטובוס סמוך לחווארה, ככול הנראה ללא נפגעים. pic.twitter.com/liNSUTPxie
— rani (@Rani53618168) July 24, 2023
Former Supreme Court justice Yoram Danziger says he believes the government’s passage of the bill to limit court oversight today “is a first and dangerous step towards Israel becoming a country on the verge of dictatorship.”
Danziger tells Channel 12 he fears the legislation is meant to enable corruption in the government.
Dean, 29 from Tel Aviv, stands on Kaplan Street waving a giant North Korean flag.
“I am worried, concerned, and worried for the future and the children I don’t yet have,” he says.
“I wasn’t at the early protests. I started when they fired Gallant. Until then, I was worried but I figured they had won and had the majority,” he says. “But then the penny dropped that the state wasn’t going in a good direction. And I started to feel that my government wasn’t my government. It wasn’t acting for the entire people but only for those who voted for them. And I said I would join the demonstrations.”
“And when I saw the handmaiden [protesters for women’s rights], I realized it sent a strong message and I wanted to see how I could also send a strong message, so I asked my sister if she could get me a North Korean flag on AliExpress.”
“We are not there yet,” he adds. “What happened today is the start. Tomorrow, I will wake up and still go to work, but the government is sending lots of messages to delegitimize the protests and what we stand for.”
Police say officers have arrested a driver suspected of plowing into protesters blocking a road near Kfar Saba.
It says three people were lightly injured by the car.
A video shows the vehicle accelerate straight into a group of people and drive away.
זווית נוספת לאירוע דריסה:
דוברות המשטרה (שרון): המשטרה מבצעת כעת חיפושים אחר רכב פרטי שפגע במפגינים בצומת מלל על כביש 531. 3 מפגינים נפצעו. pic.twitter.com/dxFnelCTO3
— daniel amram – דניאל עמרם (@danielamram3) July 24, 2023
The national protest movement blames Prime Minister Netanyahu as “solely responsible for the rift in the nation, the destruction of the army, and the crushing of the economy,” in response to the premier’s public remarks this evening.
“There is nothing to talk about with someone who decided to turn himself into [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Israel into a dictatorship,” the protest statement continues, “we will fight Netanyahu to the end so that Israel remains a liberal democracy.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid dismisses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to return to talks, calling it “empty, because it is not within his authority.”
“As anyone involved in attempts to reach broad agreements has discovered, Benjamin Netanyahu is not really Israel’s prime minister. He is a prisoner of [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin and [far-right politicians Simcha] Rothman and [Itamar] Ben Gvir,” Lapid charges.
Dismissing negotiation efforts, Lapid says that he has “made every effort to prevent a rift in the nation,” but that “the opposition will not be a partner in talks that are just an empty show.”
Attacking Netanyahu’s trustworthiness, Lapid adds that: “Netanyahu’s statement tonight is another lie, the sole purpose of which is to reduce pressure by the Americans and put the protests to sleep. The government of extremists and messianists cannot tear apart our democracy at noon, and in the evening send Netanyahu to say that he is proposing dialogue.”
Promising to continue to fight against judicial overhaul, Lapid says: “They won’t make us give up. We won’t give up. The struggle has just begun.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu says in a televised statement the country must remain “brothers” despite disagreements.
He says today’s legislation was “necessary” to allow an elected government to rule — “to restore a degree of balance between the branches of government.”
“Realizing the will of the voter is certainly not the end of democracy. It’s the essence of democracy,” he says.
He blames the opposition for the failure to reach a compromise, claiming all his side’s offers were rejected. “Despite everything, my friends, we will continue to seek talks and agreements.”
“Even during the vote, until the last moment, we tried to reach agreements,” he says.
Referring to the rest of the overhaul legislation, he says the coalition will reach out to the opposition in the coming days for talks “to reach a broad agreement on everything” by the end of November. “That’s more than enough time to reach agreement on everything.” (The Knesset breaks next week for its summer recess, and resumes in October.)
“We all agree that Israel must remain a strong democracy, that it will continue to protect the personal rights of all, that it not become a halachic state, and that the court will continue to be independent and no side will take control of it,” he says. “It will not happen on our watch.”
Netanyahu says the IDF must remain above any political disagreement.
Those calling “for refusals [to serve] harm the security of all Israeli citizens,” he says. “We won’t surrender to those demands.”
“Our brothers and sisters in the reserves, keep IDF service out of the political argument,” he urges.
“We have one nation, one home, one people. On the eve of Tisha B’Av, we must safeguard these above all else.”
As for Israel’s enemies, he says, “I know you don’t know what democracy is.” But don’t misinterpret our internal dispute, he says.”We will stand shoulder to shoulder to rebuff any threats to our beloved state.”
A top law enforcement official tells Channel 12 he believes the government’s aim in eliminating the reasonableness standard is now to appoint “a general prosecutor who is ‘one of ours.'”
“It’s all about who will close [Netanyahu’s] criminal case,” the unnamed official says.
“This is what the country has lost its democracy for. Awful.”
Mossad Director David Barnea told a group of agents concerned about the judicial overhaul that “if things come to a constitutional crisis, I will be on the right side — but that time has not arrived,” Channel 12 reports.
The report says some Mossad agents had informed Director David Barnea that they were deliberating whether to remain in the organization in the current climate.
In a statement to the media, Benny Gantz says extremists have won and the State of Israel has lost in today’s vote.
“A majority in the Knesset that wants agreements was defeated by extreme MKs who decided to change our identity, who want to take us to an abyss of hatred, to divide us, and to turn us against each other.”
“Those who think they won today will soon find this was a grave mistake for us all,” he says.
Gantz places the blame on Netanyahu, who “preferred the political needs of Ben Gvir and the whims of Levin over Israel’s diplomacy, its security, over Israeli society and democracy.”
“Anyone who saw the defense minister beg the justice minister [to compromise] understands how badly Israel now needs a responsible adult.”
“This is not how you run a country,” he says. “Netanyahu has failed. This whole government is a resonant failure.”
Gantz vows to fight all further attempts to harm democracy. He says the “hundreds of thousands of patriots protesting” offer the path forward in the face of further planned “crushing legislation to politicize judicial appointments, override the High Court, harm the gatekeepers, and oust the attorney general. The public protests “are our hope.”
“We may have lost a battle but we will win the war,” he says.
He calls on both supporters and opponents of the overhaul not to give in to hatred and “not to give up on us as one people.
He also urges reservists to continue serving in the military.
And he says, “Everything approved here will be canceled and erased from the book of laws, sooner or later.”
Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting this afternoon to help end slander against soldiers, especially reservists who have been protesting against the government’s controversial judicial overhaul, according to a military source.
“The chief of staff presented at the meeting the assessment of the security situation, the readiness of the IDF, the assessments and the consequences of the legislation on the readiness and cohesion of the IDF,” the source says in a statement to reporters.
According to the IDF source, Chief of Staff Halevi “emphasized [to Netanyahu] that it is necessary to stop [those] speaking out against the IDF and its servicemembers, in the standing and reserve army.”
“These statements harm the competence and cohesion of the IDF,” Halevi said according to the source.
He said the IDF will make “great efforts to maintain competence and cohesion even at the present time.”
Halevi was supposed to meet with Netanyahu yesterday, but due to the premier’s health situation, it was delayed until this afternoon.
Despite the meeting between Halevi and Netanyahu occurring only after the vote on the “reasonableness” law, the military source says updated information on the IDF’s readiness and reservist protesters was given to the premier beforehand.
The Israel Medical Association has announced it will hold a 24-hour strike starting tomorrow, in response to the passage of the reasonableness law.
Doctors will work a weekend schedule, attending only to urgent cases.
Emergency rooms will operate normally.
Defense Minister Gallant is quoted by Hebrew-language media as saying he attempted to reach a consensus with regard to the controversial “reasonableness” bill, but was unable to.
“If I were to vote against the law, I would have to resign,” Gallant says in ostensible “closed conversations” — usually code for statements provided to reporters unofficially — according to Hebrew media. “If I had left, it wouldn’t have changed anything. It’s best that I stay at the wheel at such a time.”
Gallant says reservists threatening to end their voluntary duty in protest of the judicial overhaul are “acting irresponsibly.”
“I tried to reach an agreement. Unfortunately, it didn’t work,” Hebrew media cites Gallant as saying.
Gallant says regarding the Israel Defense Forces’ readiness that “the IDF will carry out its missions… My goal is to maintain security and democracy.”
Around 200 protesters begin to march north on Tel Aviv’s Namir Street, slowing traffic in the area with vehicles forced into one lane. The group tried to reach the Ayalon Highway near Savidor Train Station, but after they were thwarted by police officers stationed there, they began to head north.
A woman who gave her name only as Ava says she will not block the road, after she was nearly run over while protesting recently at the same corner.
“I feel very bad. This man [Netanyahu] doesn’t care about the state, the army or the economy, or the people. Just about him and his family,” she says.
“He’s not well, he shouldn’t be making decisions,” she says.
“I feel cheated. I moved here when I married a seventh-generation Israeli and I wanted a good life for my children. We had a good life here but I never thought it would come to this,” she says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to give a statement to the media in about an hour.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu is expected to extend a hand to the opposition to return to negotiations. The newspaper says Netanyahu is hoping to calm the mass protests and convince reservists not to suspend their service, as many have threatened to do.
National Unity party head Benny Gantz is also expected to speak soon.
Protests and road blockages are taking place in numerous locations throughout the country at the moment, including in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and many more.
עדכון שעה 19:00-
סה״כ 21 עצורים
מתוכם שוחררו 16
ירושלים – 3 בתחנת מוריה (עו"ד מיכל גורן)
זכרון – 1 (עו"ד אשרת קירמה)
בנוסף דווח על עוד כ – 9 עצורים בירושלים, כשיגיעו לתחנה נעדכן pic.twitter.com/Y1rAFa9BbO
— מערך עצורים מחאות (@AtzurimHafganot) July 24, 2023
עכשיו: איילון צפון חסום. אלפים בדרכם לקפלן. הלם וזעם באוויר, עם יתרון מסוים להלם
צילום: כוח קפלן pic.twitter.com/r2wz1U6E28
— Time Out Tel Aviv (@TimeOutTA) July 24, 2023
Police say Jerusalem’s Begin Road has been reopened after hours of closure due to protesters blocking the road.
They say one person was arrested after objects were thrown at officers as they worked to disperse the crowds.
The White House laments the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to pass the first piece of legislation from its judicial overhaul package, noting that it was done without the consensus that the Biden administration has for months insisted is necessary in order to adopt such fundamental reforms.
“It is unfortunate that the vote today took place with the slimmest possible majority,” says a statement from a White House National Security Council spokesperson.
“We believe that for major democratic changes, you need to work for consensus. We urge Israeli leaders to work toward a consensus-based approach through political dialogue.”
Speaking to reporters a short time ago, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said the passage of the law was “only the beginning.”
“There are many more laws we need to pass as part of the judicial overhaul,” he says.
He adds, “To those protesting now, you’re our brothers and we love you.”
Justice Minister Levin and other right-wing politicians are being criticized on social media as well as by some right-wing commentators for their celebratory photos moments after passing the reasonableness law.
“You know how painful this is for so many people. Millions of Israelis are worried now, truly sad and fearful,” writes Hanoch Daum for Srugim. “So why do you need these selfie celebrations? What good does it do?”
Some are also noting that while the prime minister hurried to leave the plenum after the vote, it was Levin who was seen as the day’s big winner and who received much of the credit on the right.
סלפי הניצחון של חברי הקואליציה pic.twitter.com/Xz7Y3Gtf4j
— חזקי ברוך (@HezkeiB) July 24, 2023
Israeli companies that trade on US stock exchanges take a hit as the market opens after the Knesset passes the reasonableness bill into law.
Several exchange-traded funds that bundle Israeli companies on US exchanges see their share prices drop by around 1.5% in morning trading, while the rest of the US market trends upward.
Leading Israeli companies on New York exchanges including Elbit, Wix, monday.com, SolarEdge and NICE Ltd. all trend downward. A few companies such as Mobileye and Teva, which both have significant facilities outside Israel, see shares climb with the rest of the market.
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s benchmark TA-125 index is down 2.32%.
Business leaders have consistently warned that the judicial overhaul would harm Israel’s economy, including by stoking uncertainty and discouraging foreign investment.
British Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary is remanded in custody by a UK magistrate after London’s Metropolitan police charged him with three terrorism offenses.
Choudary, 56, faces charges of belonging to a proscribed organization, addressing meetings to encourage support for a proscribed organization and directing a terrorist organization, the force says.
A 28-year-old Canadian, Khaled Hussein, is also ordered held in custody after he was charged with membership of a proscribed organization.
Both appeared separately at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, which heard that the charges relate to “an extreme form of Islam.”
“The charges relate to the proscribed organization al-Muhajiroun, also known as the Islamic Thinkers Society,” prosecutor Nick Price said. “Criminal proceedings against Mr. Choudary and Mr. Hussein are now active and they each have the right to a fair trial,” he added.
Appearing at a Jerusalem rally, former state attorney Moshe Lador thanks Benjamin Netanyahu “for making this wonderful camp wake up.”
Lador tells those gathered: “If we don’t stop the legislation, the illusion that we have a progressive, Western country here will disappear.
“Herzl prophesied the realization of the Zionist project and Ben-Gurion established the state of the Jewish people, a Jewish state in all its glory. And now through his actions the prime minister — who is accused of serious corruption in public office [and] who, amid a glaring conflict of interest, is conducting himself selfishly and recklessly — is rushing to change the identity of the country for his own benefit.”
Protest organizers say they will ramp up demonstrations against the “government of destruction” and vow to “fight them to the very end.”
They thank the “unprecedented democratic movement” that has arisen in reaction to the government and say: “We’ve only just begun.”
כביש בגין לשני הכיוונים חסום כבר יותר משעה pic.twitter.com/nQXlp1Ozg4
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) July 24, 2023
Protesters are marching along Jerusalem’s Begin Road as they block traffic on the major thoroughfare.
Police have begun using water cannons to disperse them.
כביש בגין המפגינים מכתרים את המכתזית pic.twitter.com/RBdCIchg75
— לירי בורק שביט (@lirishavit) July 24, 2023
Protesters against the government are planning a major rally outside the Knesset at 6 p.m.
The demonstration will include former security chiefs, former top jurists and politicians.
Thousands of anti-government protesters outside the Supreme Court denounce the passage of the coalition’s law to limit court oversight, crying “shame” and “democracy or rebellion.”
One activist speaking from a giant stage set up for the demonstration calls for all the protesters to message a friend to join the protest.
“Anyone who isn’t here right now is not present at the most important battle in the history of the country,” declares the activist.
“Take your phone and message five people. Everyone needs to come right now,” he continues, followed by deafening horn blasts and chants of “Democracy,” “We are not afraid,” and “Israel is not a dictatorship.”
Meanwhile some protesters have blocked the major Begin highway that cuts through the city.
עשרות מפגינים מתיישבים על הנתיבים בכביש בגין pic.twitter.com/fCa5eYjunm
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) July 24, 2023
Following the passage of the Reasonableness Law, numerous coalition politicians are expressing hope that with the Knesset now set to begin a summer recess of several months, the opposition will agree to enter into negotiations over the next overhaul bills.
That seems, at this point, unlikely.
Beating Lapid to the punch, the Movement for Quality Government says it has just petitioned the High Court against the cancellation of the judicial reasonableness standard.
“The government of destruction has raised its malicious hand against the State of Israel; now it’s the Supreme Court’s turn to step up and prevent this legislation,” says organization head Eliad Shraga.
The organization says the law is unconstitutional as “it fundamentally changes the basic structure of Israeli parliamentary democracy and the nature of the regime, while de facto abolishing the judiciary and seriously damaging the delicate fabric of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances in the State of Israel.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid slams the coalition for abusing its power, minutes after the Knesset passes the first of the coalition’s judicial overhaul laws.
Lapid promises to petition the High Court of Justice tomorrow against the freshly passed law.
“This is a complete breaking of the rules of the game,” Lapid says, from his Yesh Atid party’s Knesset conference room. “The government and coalition can choose what direction the state goes in, but it can’t decide the character of the state.”
The opposition leader encourages military reservists to wait before pulling out of military service. “Don’t stop serving,” Lapid says, “while we still don’t know the High Court of Justice’s ruling.”
Lapid also attacks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “weak,” saying “there is no prime minister.”
“Netanyahu has become a puppet on the strings of extremists and messianists,” he says.
To coalition members, who gathered for a congratulatory selfie as votes were being tallied, he asks “What are you celebrating?”
“This is a sad day, a day of our home’s destruction, of needless hatred, and look at the coalition celebrating,” he adds.
The Histadrut Labor Federation assails politicians after the reasonableness law passes, saying “all attempts to mediate failed due to political whims on both sides.”
It says it will announce a labor dispute in the coming days.
“From this moment on any unilateral advancement of the reform will have grave consequences,” says Histadrut head Arnon Bar-David, “up to and including a full strike” of workers’ unions throughout the country.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich welcomes the passage of the law, saying “we left no stone unturned until the last minute but the opposition unfortunately opposed” compromise.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin takes to the Knesset rostrum to congratulate the coalition on the legislative win.
“We have taken the first step in a historic process to correct the judicial system,” Levin says.
The Knesset is half empty, as 56 opposition members left the plenum to boycott final voting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also departed the plenum during the vote, after casting his vote for the law.
נאום התודות של יריב לוין גודל לנו מנהיג אמיתי בימין ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ucyQfWrCzE
— Yair bissor (@yairbissor) July 24, 2023
After weeks of protests and mass public opposition that have roiled the country and divided society, the Knesset has given its final approval to a law that prevents the courts from reviewing the reasonableness of government and ministerial decisions, the first major bill to pass in the government’s judicial overhaul.
The bill passed with 64 votes in favor and 0 against, with opposition MKs boycotting the final vote on the bill in protest.
Within the Knesset, multiple last-minute attempts to amend the bill or to come to a broader procedural compromise with the opposition failed, and two compromise frameworks floated by a union leader and the president were rejected. A series of ideas for unilaterally softening the legislation, discussed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and key coalition leaders even as the Knesset was preparing to vote, also led nowhere.
The vote followed almost 30 hours of continuous floor debate that began on Sunday morning. During that period, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, both for and against curbing judicial checks on political power.
According to the law’s text, courts are prohibited from exercising any scrutiny over the “reasonableness” of cabinet and minister decisions, including appointments and the choice to not exercise vested authorities.
Final voting is beginning on the coalition’s bill to outlaw judicial scrutiny over the “reasonableness” of their own decisions.
All 140 opposition reservations were rejected, the second reading was quickly approved in electronic voting and a roll call vote has begun on the third, final, reading.
The second and third readings of the “reasonableness” bill are imminent, after which the legislation will pass into law.
Meanwhile internal coalition hubbub continues, with Netanyahu holding phone calls as part of apparent last-minute efforts to strike some sort of deal, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Justice Minister Yariv Levin seen exchanging angry comments in the plenum.
Gallant is then seen speaking with opposition heads Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, in quick succession, on the Knesset floor.
At one point Yesh Atid lawmakers interrupt voting on reservations to the bill to chant “government of destruction.” Today’s vote takes place three days before Tisha B’Av, the day on which Jews remember the destruction of the Jewish Temples.
שר הבטחון גלנט ושר המשפטים לוין מתקוטטים, כאשר גלנט מנסה להשיג ריכוך, פשרה כשהוא יודע שכוחות המילואים מתרסקים לו. לוין מתעקש על החוק בגרסה הכי נוקשה כפי שהוכן, נתניהו באמצע לא מפשר וזורם לרוב עם לוין. pic.twitter.com/owLwAxX5qp
— Tal Schneider טל שניידר تال شنايدر (@talschneider) July 24, 2023
The Second Authority for Television and Radio, Israel’s commercial broadcast regulator, sends a letter to police chief Kobi Shabtai urging him to prevent what it says are a growing number of threats and attacks on journalists covering the political drama in the country.
“What began as ‘isolated’ incidents has become a serious trend,” the Authority says.
It says journalists from “all outlets” have been attacked, particularly while covering protests, despite the heavy presence of police officers.
It expresses concern both for the physical wellbeing of reporters and “harm to freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.”
The regulator calls on police to take immediate action to stamp out such behavior.
Police say 19 people have been arrested at protests against the overhaul in Jerusalem so far.
Channel 12 now reports that the idea of some kind of last-minute compromise has collapsed.
The coalition is moving ahead “all the way” with the bill in its current form, it says.
Netanyahu is seen speaking on his mobile phone as Levin and Gallant talk angrily on either side of him. “Give me something!” Gallant is said to demand of Levin as they argue.
Police blast a water cannon at protesters demonstrating peaceably in front of the Knesset.
The water cannon sprays numerous protesters standing behind a high metal mesh barrier facing the Knesset building, sending some fleeing for cover while others sit down in defiance of the police.
“Shame on you, this is the most polite protest ever,” cries out one protester.
Thousands of demonstrators continue to sing, chant and protest, denouncing the government in general and Justice Minister Yariv Levin in particular.
After one demonstrator is frog-marched back behind the demonstration barricades, cries of “shame” and “Ben Gvir’s police” are hurled at the police.
I just got blasted repeatedly by water cannon as protestors demonstrated peaceably in front of the Knesset… pic.twitter.com/1yKBsoHJyK
— Jeremy Sharon (@jeremysharon) July 24, 2023
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir releases a statement to express “my regret that parts of the coalition are engaging in negotiations with themselves and are considering arriving at a compromise that will hollow out the law,” amid reports that the coalition is considering accepting a proposed amendment to soften the bill.
“Any voting compromise on the reasonableness bill will be a disgrace for the whole right wing,” he continues.
As the Knesset voting continues, Netanyahu is now chatting good-naturedly with Gallant, the reported leader of the mid-vote compromise gambit, with Levin on the other side of him.
The proposal being discussed, Channel 12 reports without sourcing, would be to halt the vote on the “reasonableness” law after it is approved in a second reading, and send it back to committee. The law would then be returned for its third and final reading, with a text agreed upon in talks with the opposition, in a week’s time. Further judicial overhaul legislation would be delayed for a year, with the goal of reaching consensus.
Channel 12 assesses that the likelihood of this last-minute coalition about-face happening is very small, especially given furious opposition from Levin and Ben Gvir.
It says Levin and Ben Gvir have explicitly threatened Netanyahu that they will bring down the coalition if the bill does not pass, as is, today.
It also reports that President Herzog is still trying to advance a compromise.
Five anti-judicial overhaul protesters have been brought to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. According to a hospital spokesperson, all their injuries are minor.
Amir Schnabel, a 57-year-old high-tech worker from Tel Aviv, told The Times of Israel that he was hit in the side of the head by a water cannon stream as he stood at the side of a protest at the Knesset this morning. He is currently in the hospital’s emergency department undergoing medical tests.
“I was standing to the side of the main protest area, and I suddenly got hit in my head by the stream of water. The force threw me to the ground and the left side of my jaw hit the sidewalk curb. I remember the impact but not everything after that. The people who were there told me I lost consciousness for a minute or so,” he said.
Shaare Zedek has yet to identify the other protesters or release details on their injuries.
Israeli shares turn to losses and the shekel weakens as voting on the “reasonableness” law begins after negotiations on a compromise with the opposition on the contentious judicial overhaul collapsed.
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s benchmark TA-125 index falls 1% and TA-35 index of blue-chip companies declines 0.8%, while the TA-90 index is down 0.9%. The Tel Aviv index of the five largest banks is down 0.8% and the TA-Insurance & Financial Services declines 0.5%.
The Knesset begins voting on the “reasonableness” law, barring judicial review of government and ministerial decisions on the grounds of reasonableness. It is set to become the first piece of the planned judicial overhaul to become law.
Even as the voting proceeds, coalition members are moving around the chamber, with Channel 12 claiming that ministers are discussing a last-minute compromise of some kind.
Without sourcing, the TV station says Justice Minister Yariv Levin is at the forefront of opposition to any such move, while Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is at the heart of the effort.
It claims coalition officials have even been consulting with legal experts about how it might be procedurally possible to engineer a compromise even as the bill is being voted through.
As the coalition votes down the stream of reservations to the legislation, Netanyahu sits in the plenum, with Levin and Itamar Ben Gvir to one side of him and Miri Regev on the other. He then gets up and leaves the chamber, where he is said to be consulting with Aryeh Deri, before returning.
Ben Gvir issues a statement saying any compromise on the bill will be a disgrace to the entire political right.
Coalition and opposition sources, meanwhile, are blaming each other for the collapse of their compromise negotiations. Opposition sources say Netanyahu wanted a compromise but was deterred by Levin’s threat to bring down the coalition. Coalition sources say Lapid was ready for an agreement but was dissuaded by the anti-overhaul protest leaders.
Yom Kippur War veteran protesting overhaul: ‘If there’s a different regime it’s a different country’
Oded Megiddo, 74 years old and a veteran of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, says he is demonstrating against the government because “the country has turned upside down.” He decries the government for its judicial overhaul plan and its cabinet ministers, some of whom he describes as “convicted criminals,” and “corrupt.”
Megiddo fought in a tank brigade in the Sinai front of the Yom Kippur War and says he was in the first brigade to cross the Suez canal during the IDF’s counteroffensive against the Egyptians, ending up on the western side of the canal close to the city of Ismailia.
“There are ‘hilltop youths’ who just eight months ago were carrying out attacks in the territories and are now ministers and members of Knesset,” says Megiddo, using a term for radical, extremist settler activists.
“One of them was convicted eight times and another was caught on his way to carry out a terror attack,” says Megiddo in reference to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who was arrested for but never charged with attempted terror offenses during the Gaza Disengagement in 2005.
״But we who fought for this country for decades and left our friends on the battlefield, we are the anarchists?” he demands.
Megiddo, who was lightly injured during the Yom Kippur War but returned to the front, insists the mass protest and refusal to perform reserve duty are legitimate since, he argues, the government is trying to change the nature of Israel’s democratic governance.
“The government is trying to change the regime here in Israel. Ben Gurion left us without a constitution but there are still Basic Laws and principles and they want to change it and turn it into something else.
“I served as battalion commander in the reserves for nine years under governments I didn’t vote for or agree with, because it was the regime I grew up in. But if there’s a different regime then it’s a different country,” argued Megiddo, saying that in those circumstances it was legitimate to stop serving.
Asked if halting reserve duty over a political dispute endangered the cohesiveness of the army, Megiddo argued that elements in the religious-right had called for soldiers in the conscript army to refuse orders during the Gaza Disengagement, and he claimed the army would be able to cope in similar circumstances.
As the Knesset votes on the “reasonableness” bill, head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk, and the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, arrive to brief lawmakers about military readiness as protests over the judicial overhaul roil the IDF’s ranks.
Channel 12 reports that Netanyahu refused to meet IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi before the voting began. The PM’s office denies this, and says their meeting was set for 5 p.m.
Itai Nakash, from Haifa, arrives at the protest against the coalition’s legal reforms outside the Knesset with a banner demanding “How can a government of draft-dodgers call me a service refuser?!”
Nakash, who served in the Israeli Air Force, says he sees the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary as “a real danger to the security and future of the state of Israel.”
He has suspended his reserve duty service and will stop completely if the legislation is passed today.
He objects to those in the coalition and their supporters who label as “draft refusers” the IDF reservists who have said they will stop doing reserve duty because of the judicial legislation, pointing out that many in the coalition — particularly in the ultra-Orthodox parties — never served at all.
“It’s incredibly hypocritical of the government and its supporters to refer to us as draft refusers, when it is we who volunteer for reserve duty and are a small proportion of the population which the government takes for granted, and when a lot of them didn’t do any service at all, as is required by law,” says Nakash.
He acknowledges the danger to the army and the country of citizens stopping their reserve duty service, but insists the alternative is worse.
“It would be more damaging to allow the legislation to continue. This is not a political protest about left or right; this is about an effort to change the type of regime we have.
“You can serve a government whose ideology you don’t agree with, but it is dangerous to blindly follow orders especially if the government is extremely radical and showing signs of dictatorship,” says Nakash, referencing countries where democratic values and rights have been significantly damaged in recent years such as Poland and Hungary.
Nakash says he believes the massive demonstrations, strike action, and civil disobedience is justified for the current legislation since he believes firstly that the bill itself is very problematic, but moreover because “it is just the start, they don’t deny it, and they are trying to prepare the ground for the rest of the judicial overhaul.”
Having arrived after the start of voting on objections to the “reasonableness” bill, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has begun voting with the coalition, dispelling any notion he would rebel against the government.
Each of the objections to the bill is now being voted down by all 64 coalition members, against 56 opposition votes, with all coalition and opposition lawmakers present in the plenum.
The Knesset begins voting on the “reasonableness” law, barring judicial review of government and ministerial decisions on the grounds of “reasonableness.”
The process of approving the legislation’s second and third readings, enacting the law, is expected to last one or two hours.
Negotiations on a compromise with the opposition collapsed minutes ago. The coalition is also not unilaterally softening the language of the bill, which is set to become the first piece of its planned judicial overhaul to become law.
Channel 12 reports that Justice Minister Yariv Levin made clear to Netanyahu during their discussions just prior to the voting that if the law does not pass in its current form, the coalition would collapse.
Ahead of the start of voting, Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman bickered with Yesh Atid lawmakers while formally presenting the “reasonableness” bill for its second reading.
“You are talking about the end of democracy, you’re spreading that fake news!” Rothman shouted at lawmaker Yorai Lahav-Hertzano, before the opposition MK was escorted out of the plenum.
Rothman, whose committee sponsored and prepared the bill, also charged the opposition with creating fear among citizens, leading to protests currently outside the Knesset.
Coalition members broke out into applause as Rothman introduced the bill, while opposition members chanted against him.
Netanyahu then entered and took his seat alongside Levin on the government bench, after shaking hands with opposition National Unity party leader Benny Gantz.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin argues that “reasonableness” is a nebulous legal concept that bleeds into personal opinion, as he presents the government’s position on the bill ahead of its second reading.
Levin lists a number of High Court rulings that relied on the doctrine and says that it was inappropriate for the court to weigh in and overrule elected officials.
“You [judges] want to decide what’s reasonable and what’s not, instead of the people chosen by the nation? That’s reasonable?” he says.
“I want to say more than that — who even said that what is reasonable in the eyes of the judges is even the logical thing to do? Who decided that their personal positions are better than those of the ministers?” he continues.
“Where is the school for reasonableness, where you can learn what is reasonable? Is there such a place? Of course there isn’t!?” Levin says tauntingly from the Knesset rostrum.
“There is no such thing and there can be no such thing. Because reasonableness is a worldview. It’s not contract law, it’s not evidence law, it’s not a legal matter,” the justice minister says.
“I know that a decisive majority of the public wants changes to the judicial system,” Levin claims. He says, nevertheless, that he supports reaching “broad agreement.”
Lapid says compromise efforts have failed: ‘Impossible to reach agreements with this government that preserve Israeli democracy’
Opposition leader Yair Lapid, bristling with anger and frustration, appears before TV cameras at the Knesset to announce that it has proved impossible to reach an agreement with the coalition over judicial reform.
His remarks, delivered with Knesset about to begin the process of voting on the “reasonableness” law, signal the collapse of attempts to reach a compromise.
“In recent weeks, and especially in the past 48 hours, we did everything possible to reach agreements, as promised,” says Lapid.
“Our main condition was to protect Israeli democracy, but with this government it is impossible to reach agreements that preserve Israeli democracy.”
He charges: “They want to tear apart the state, tear apart democracy, tear apart the security of Israel, the unity of the people of Israel, and our international relations.”
Therefore, he concludes, “there is no way to continue to work with them — because this is the most irresponsible government there has ever been here.”
Mossad chief David Barnea met today with employees at the spy agency opposed to the judicial overhaul to discuss the potential fallout, according to Channel 12’s investigate news program “Uvda.”
“If the situation reaches a constitutional crisis I’ll be on the right side, but right now isn’t the time,” Barnea is quoted as telling the group.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says that several coalition members are against the “reasonableness” bill, urging them to stop the legislation as the final plenum votes are set to be held.
“Over the past few weeks, I have had hundreds of hours of conversations with people from within the coalition. Don’t worry, I won’t say names, but you know who you are and you know the truth. You know something terrible is happening here,” Lapid says.
He denounces the legislation as a “hostile takeover of the Israeli majority by an extremist minority, and also a hostile takeover of your party.”
“You know that what’s happening here is a disaster that can be prevented. A tragedy that we must stop,” he says.
“You can stop it. It may not be what you planned for yourself. It may not be what you came to politics for, but if you don’t stop it now, you’ll wake up at night for the next thirty years and ask yourself why you didn’t do it when you knew it was the right thing to do,” Lapid adds.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is now meeting at the Knesset with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the latter held talks with several leading overhaul proponents ahead of the final votes on the “reasonableness” bill.
Gallant’s meeting with Netanyahu comes as efforts are also being made to broker an agreement between the coalition and the opposition on the legislation, as well a delay to the rest of the government’s judicial overhaul plans.
National Unity leader Benny Gantz insisters there are coalition lawmakers against the bill to cancel judicial oversight over the “reasonableness” of senior politician decisions.
“There’s a majority in this auditorium, and I know this for a fact, that doesn’t want this result,” Gantz says.
The National Unity party leader warns that the legislation, if passed in the Knesset votes scheduled today, will harm Israel’s democratic foundations, economy, and security.
“I’m very bothered by the security situation and what we broadcast to our enemies,” adds Gantz, a former defense minister and military chief.
Yesterday Gantz received a special briefing from IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi on military readiness, given the large number of reservists who say they will opt out of voluntary duty to protest the judicial overhaul.
Gantz encourages the coalition to pause the legislation and return to judicial reform talks being mediated by President Isaac Herzog, but alleges “there are forces in the coalition that don’t want an agreement, they want a fight.”
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi interrupts Gantz, shouting: “You blew up the talks at the President’s Residence.”
Tensions break out in the Knesset plenum between Arab lawmakers from rival factions.
Speaking in Arabic, Ra’am MK Mansour Abbas delivers one of the filibuster’s last speeches, when he is interrupted by Hadash-Ta’al MK Aida Touma-Sliman.
In the brief Hebrew portion of their exchange, Abbas accuses Touma-Sliman of bringing down the last coalition — which included the Ra’am party. The heated bickering continues after Abbas steps down from the Knesset rostrum.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has arrived at the Knesset, following his release from the hospital this morning.
He entered parliament through an emergency entrance, Channel 12 reports, and thus skirted the demonstrators outside.
Netanyahu ignores shouted questions from reporters and enters his office, where he is meeting with Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) July 24, 2023
The opposition’s 26-hour long filibuster is set to end around noon, with opposition party heads Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz delivering final remarks before passing the baton to the coalition.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin is set to summarize the government’s position and Constitution Law, and Justice Committee chair MK Simcha Rothman will address the plenum, before moving to the first of two final votes on the bill to amend Basic Law: The Judiciary.
The last two votes — called the second and third readings — will begin in the early afternoon.
Before the second reading, lawmakers will vote on up to 140 reservations that the opposition filed. These reservations are expected to be rejected and not be attached to the final text.
After the second reading, the Knesset is expected to quickly proceed to the third reading, which is the decisive vote.
Opposition parties decided this morning to boycott the final vote, which may be expected in the late afternoon or early evening.
Alongside the legislative process, President Isaac Herzog has made a last-ditch effort to mediate between opposition and coalition figures and create a consensus on both the “reasonableness” bill and further legislation tied to the government’s plan to weaken judicial oversight.
Outside the parliament’s gates, dozens of anti-overhaul protesters remain from a raucous morning demonstration. At 6 p.m., pro-overhaul demonstrators are expected to arrive to express their support.
Culture Minister Miki Zohar of the ruling Likud party also comes out against amending the “reasonableness” bill in its current form.
“A compromise that neuters the law restricting the reasonableness clause and leads to a delay of the [judicial] reform is the true blow to democracy,” Zohar writes on Twitter, echoing language used by the far-right Otzma Yehudit party to argue against changing the legislation.
Zohar’s tweet comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huddles at his office with Shas chief Aryeh Deri, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and cabinet secretary Yossi Fuchs ahead of the scheduled final votes on the bill, which come as an 11th-hour push is being made by President Isaac Herzog and others to forge an agreement between the coalition and opposition.
Opposition parties will boycott the final plenum readings on the coalition’s “reasonableness” bill if no agreements are reached between the sides before voting commences, according to a Yesh Atid spokesperson.
Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Liberman hails the move, which he has publicly advocated for.
President Isaac Herzog says he’s been working “around the clock” to broker an agreement between the coalition and opposition on judicial reform, warning Israel is in “a national emergency.”
“There is a possible basis for understandings, but there are still gaps that require the various sides to display responsibility,” Herzog says in a statement.
He adds: “Israeli citizens are thirsty for hope and expect responsibility and leadership. I call on elected officials to act bravely and to extend their hands in order to reach understandings.”
The Defense Ministry says military officials will brief members of the high-level security cabinet today, as protests over the judicial overhaul have roiled the Israel Defense Forces.
Last night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi briefed National Unity leader Benny Gantz, and the head of the Shin Bet security agency met with opposition leader Yair Lapid.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s office says that following directives by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Defense Ministry, “the IDF will brief cabinet ministers this morning regarding the security situation and the IDF’s readiness.”
More than 10,000 reservists have said they will end their volunteer duty if the government advances its controversial plans to overhaul the judiciary, sparking fears that the IDF’s readiness will be impacted.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party says it opposes any “softening” of the “reasonableness” bill, calling for the coalition to pass the legislation in its current form.
In a statement, the party claims that shrinking the scope of the bill — which aims to bar judicial oversight over the “reasonableness” of government decisions — would “neuter” the legislation.
“We have no mandate to soften the bill… and especially not to make any commitment to delay the rest of the [judicial] reform,” Otzma Yehudit says. “We need to pass the legislation as is and afterwards continue forward.”
A protester near the Knesset is injured after being struck in the head by a police water cannon.
There is no immediate word on the demonstrator’s condition as an ambulance is called to the scene.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 24, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained 17 wanted Palestinians, seized weapons, and neutralized explosive devices during raids across the West Bank overnight.
In a “brigade-level” operation in the Nur Shams refugee camp, near Tulkarem, the IDF says troops located and destroyed around ten explosive devices, and detained one suspect.
“Exchanges of fire took place in the area and suspects hurled explosive devices at the forces, who responded with live fire,” the IDF says, adding that suspects were hit.
Fifteen wanted Palestinians were detained and several firearms were seized in a number of Palestinian villages in the central and southern West Bank, the IDF says. Another suspect was detained in the Bethlehem area.
Armed clashes also broke out in the Askar refugee camp near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The IDF says troops returned fire at gunmen and used riot dispersal means.
There are no reports of Israeli troops hurt.
Palestinian health officials reported at least 13 wounded in Nur Shams, and two wounded in Askar.
Police say they arrested six protesters for ignoring officers’ orders while blocking roads outside the Knesset this morning.
A police statement accuses the protesters of scuffling with officers and trying to knock over barricades, leading cops to use water cannons and mounted officers to disperse the demonstrators.
Video shows Labor MK Naama Lazimi getting doused by a water cannon as she stands in a line with protesters.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 24, 2023
A spokesperson for the US Embassy tells The Times of Israel it’s closely following all recent developments with respect to the pending judicial overhaul legislation and hopes for a compromise.
“We understand intensive discussions continue this morning to try and reach a compromise. We remain hopeful that an acceptable arrangement can be reached,” the spokesperson says.
The US mission is currently being led by Stephanie Hallett, who took over as charge d’affaires after ambassador Tom Nides stepped down a few days ago. The statement comes after US President Joe Biden told the Walla news site that the government shouldn’t rush a “divisive” bill to curb judicial review due to the threats Israel is facing.
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar warned opposition leader Yair Lapid during their meeting last night that the current turmoil over the judicial overhaul is weakening national security, Channel 12 reports.
The network, which doesn’t cite a source, said Bar expressed serious concern about the potential for violence and chaos.
In a statement on their meeting, Lapid said the two discussed “the security threats in different areas” and that he stressed his concern about “national resilience.”
According to Channel 12 news, the conversation was requested by Bar and greenlighted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The meeting yesterday came as Lapid also met with President Isaac Herzog, who is pushing for an agreement on the “reasonableness” bill the coalition is working to pass into law and a months-long pause on the rest of the judicial shakeup to allow for negotiations.
Police have arrested prominent anti-overhaul protester Moshe Radman near the Knesset.
A video clip shows Radman, one of the leaders of the protest movement, lying on grounds in handcuffs as a police officer tells a bystander filming to back away.
There is no immediate statement from police on why Radman was arrested.
The incident came as police were seeking to clear protesters blocking access to the Knesset, deploying water cannons and mounted officers to do so.
— נועה ברנס Noa Baranes (@noabaranes10) July 24, 2023
Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar defends the decision by opposition leader Yair Lapid’s party to take part in talks to restrict the scope of the “reasonableness” bill and pause the rest of the judicial overhaul as further negotiations are held.
“There are moments in life when you can’t only make political calculations. Someone needs to be the adult in the room,” she tells the Ynet news site.
Elharrar adds that Israel has been hurled into “a catastrophic situation” and says Yesh Atid doesn’t trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“On the other hand, the rest of the things must be delayed,” she says, referring to the coalition’s other far-reaching proposals for changing the judicial system.
President Isaac Herzog yesterday launched a last-ditch bid to forge an agreement between the sides, as the Knesset began debating the bill ahead of the expected final votes today.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is released from Sheba Medical Center, where he has been hospitalized for more than a day after having a pacemaker installed early yesterday morning.
Video from the hospital in Ramat Gan shows Netanyahu’s convoy leaving the facility.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 24, 2023
Netanyahu was first hospitalized for a day last week and then readmitted yesterday after suffering a “potentially life-threatening transient heart block.”
It was not immediately clear if Netanyahu would proceed to the Knesset, where lawmakers have been voting on the coalition’s proposal to block courts from exercising judicial review over the “reasonableness” of government decisions.
Police deploy water cannons in Jerusalem to clear protesters blocking roads leading to the Knesset, where lawmakers are deliberating the coalition’s contentious “reasonableness” bill ahead of the final votes.
Police warn of further road closures around the Knesset and surrounding area during the day.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) July 24, 2023
Elsewhere in the capital, officers arrested three protesters for blocking the entrance to Economy Minister Nir Barkat’s home.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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