ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Demonstration aimed for just before Knesset resumes activity

Supporters of judicial overhaul plan ‘million person’ rally after Independence Day

Mass event to focus on military reservists who threatened to not show up for volunteer active reserve duty, will assert that legislation’s opponents trying to ‘burn down the state’

Rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. The Netanyahu banner reads: 'Many politicians; one leader.' (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. The Netanyahu banner reads: 'Many politicians; one leader.' (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Supporters of the government’s judicial overhaul are planning to hold a “million person rally” later this month to demonstrate vast public support for the contentious plan.

Polls have repeatedly shown that the government legislation in its current form is broadly unpopular with the public, with hundreds of thousands taking to the street in recent weeks to protest the plan.

The rally in support of the overhaul is set to take place the day after Israel’s Independence Day, held this year on April 26.

The Knesset’s next session is set to begin April 30. Justice Minister Yariv Levin said Thursday he would then resume efforts to pass the judicial overhaul, sparking claims that talks aimed at reaching a broad consensus on the now-frozen legislation were being used as a fig leaf.

The pro-overhaul rally organizers told the Walla news site on Friday, “We will shock the country — the reform will pass.”

“We will not stop the protests and will only step them up until the rally of a million that will clarify to the president, the court and the opposition — no more,” the organizers said.

Protesters carry a banner reading ‘the people chose judicial reform’ at a rally in support of the government’s planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Coalition lawmakers are expected to join the event, including members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit, and key architect of the plan Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman.

According to Channel 12 news, the rally will aim to show that the “nation wants” the overhaul while portraying its critics as “trying to burn down the state.

The report said the rally will focus its attention on the thousands of military reservists who have threatened to not show up for volunteer active reserve duty if the overhaul passed. Before Netanyahu on Monday suspended the progress of the legislation through the Knesset, hundreds of pilots had already begun holding out on attending some training sessions, a move that sparked widespread alarm about Israel’s security.

The leaders of the reservist pilots’ protest announced Tuesday that they would resume training and operational activity after the controversial legislative plan was paused, but indicated that they were remaining alert in case it was revived.

Thousands marched in support of the government’s judicial overhaul plans in Tel Aviv on Thursday, the second such rally since Netanyahu paused the judicial legislation amid growing public pressure.

Right-wing Israelis attend a rally in support of the government’s judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Unhappy at the break in the legislative blitz, they carried signs declaring “I’m a second-class citizen,” and “They’re stealing the election.”

That event followed pro-government demonstrations in Jerusalem and other parts of the country on Monday, in which some extremist protesters attacked an Arab taxi driver, anti-overhaul protesters, passersby and journalists.

Anti-overhaul protests had surged further on Sunday, when Netanyahu announced he was firing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after Gallant warned that the rift over the legislation was causing a rift that extended into the military, raising a “tangible” threat to national security. As of this weekend, however, Netanyahu had not sent Gallant a formal letter of dismissal.

The attorney general has warned that the coalition’s current 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.

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