Israelis protest government plans to weaken Supreme Court in compromise talks

TEL AVIV (AP) — Thousands of Israelis demonstrated on Saturday against their hardline government’s controversial plans to reform the justice system, with the protest campaign showing no signs of abating nearly five months later.

The main protest took place in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic center on the Mediterranean, with other smaller rallies across the country. Last Saturday, organizers of the popular protest called off the weekly demonstration due to security concerns as Israel exchanged fire with militants in the Gaza Strip.

Protesters want plans put forward by the most radical government in Israel’s history to be scrapped rather than delayed, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in March.

Earlier this week, Israel’s president hosted government officials and opposition parties for discussions on legal changes as the parties tried to reach a compromise.

The plans plunged Israel into one of its worst domestic crises, tearing apart long-standing societal fractures and creating new ones. While the legislation freeze has eased tensions somewhat, Netanyahu’s allies are pushing him to push ahead with the overhaul.

Proponents of the plan, which would weaken the Supreme Court and limit judicial review of legislation and government decisions, say it is necessary to rein in what they say is an interventionist court and return power to elected lawmakers.

Opponents say it would upset Israel’s delicate system of checks and balances and jeopardize its democratic fundamentals.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, has faced a barrage of legal criticism from a wide swath of Israeli society, including business leaders, the booming tech sector and reservists military, who threatened not to show up for work if the plan was approved

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