Protesters tie themselves to Knesset gates, decry overhaul talks as ‘fake dialogue’

Demonstrators briefly block vehicle access to parliament before being dispersed, with 5 detained; they also condemn ‘militia of thugs’ being formed for Ben Gvir

Protesters against the coalition's judicial overhaul tie themselves to the Knesset entry gate in Jerusalem, March 30, 2023. (Blocking the Coup/courtesy)
Protesters against the coalition's judicial overhaul tie themselves to the Knesset entry gate in Jerusalem, March 30, 2023. (Blocking the Coup/courtesy)

About a dozen protesters tied themselves to the Knesset entry gate early Thursday, causing vehicle access to be temporarily blocked, as protest groups continued their activities against the government’s planned judicial overhaul even after the legislation was paused for compromise talks with the opposition.

The demonstrators, from a group that calls itself “Blocking the Coup,” were eventually dispersed by the Knesset Guard, who detained five of them.

The protesters held up signs and called out chants against the overhaul, dismissing the compromise talks at President Isaac Herzog’s residence as “fake dialogue,” and criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for agreeing to form a “national guard” policing force under the direct command of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

“Instead of solving the housing crisis, fighting the cost of living and repairing the education system, the coalition members are advancing a regime coup, forming dangerous militias of thugs, thwarting legislation that protects women, and purposely leading us all to civil war out of narrow interests,” the group said in a statement.

“Instead of fake dialogue at the President’s Residence about how many stooge justices the coalition will appoint, we urge the lawmakers to acknowledge their lack of ability to solve the crisis, and tell them — convene an assembly of citizens that will devise a constitution,” they added.

Israel’s attorney general has warned that the package of legislation — which would give the coalition almost complete control over all judicial appointments, and radically constrain the High Court — would hand the government virtually unrestrained power, without providing any institutional protections for individual rights or for Israel’s democratic character.

Tensions around the shakeup have eased considerably since the announcement of the legislative halt on Monday, a day after Netanyahu dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for publicly urging a freeze, though protest organizers have vowed to continue their rallies and the issue remains a ticking time bomb domestically as well as in the diplomatic arena, causing a recent rift with the United States.

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