Protesters disrupted an event on Sunday at Tel Aviv University featuring Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, a leading architect of the proposed judicial overhaul, who had to be evacuated from the building by police.
Hundreds of demonstrators, including some university students and faculty, initially obstructed Rothman’s entry into the building where a panel discussion on the proposed judicial overhaul was set to take place.
Security personnel eventually cleared the way, enabling Rothman, the chair of the Knesset Constitution Committee, to enter the premises. However, his comments during the panel were persistently interrupted by demonstrators chanting “Democracy” and calling Rothman a fascist.
In response, the Religious Zionism MK countered: “Your argument is weak. You’re unable to intellectually confront [my arguments], so you resort to shouting?” He also sought to blame the protesters for the economic repercussions of the overhaul, claiming: “It is not the legal revolution hurting the economy, but those here crying wolf.”
After he was unable to fully participate in the panel, Rothman was escorted out of the building by security guards and placed in a campus security vehicle which brought him to his car — which had been covered in anti-government stickers by protesters.
Rothman’s Religious Zionism party issued a statement condemning the incident and attributing the protest to a left-right rivalry that went back to the establishment of the state.
Earlier this month Rothman, one of the key architects of the overhaul legislation, asserted that the coalition would press ahead with the reforms if no compromise were reached in the ongoing negotiations currently hosted at the President’s Residence.
שמחה רוטמן מגיע לאוניברסיטת תל-אביב. pic.twitter.com/kBmpYjT0Bu
— Ben Caspit בן כספית (@BenCaspit) May 28, 2023
After rushing a range of overhaul legislation through the Knesset to the brink of full passage, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in late March a pause over the Passover break, in order to allow for compromise talks aimed at reaching a broad agreement.
Once the state budget passed last week, Netanyahu said that “of course” the overhaul will be advanced. He later clarified, adding: “We will of course continue with our efforts to arrive at a broad consensus agreement, to the extent possible, on the issue of judicial reform.”
On Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated nationwide against the judicial overhaul plans for the 21st consecutive week.