TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israelis took to the streets on Saturday to protest, now in their 11th week, plans by Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government to overhaul the country’s legal system.
Protesters say the proposed changes undermine the country’s democracy by limiting the power of the Supreme Court. Netanyahu and his allies say the plan is needed to curb what they say are the excessive powers of unelected judges.
The main protest in the central city of Tel Aviv attracted tens of thousands of people waving Israeli flags and banners at street signs reading “Dead End!” and “Risk ahead!” Minor protests have been reported in other parts of the country.
Netanyahu on Wednesday swiftly rejected a compromise proposal by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to resolve the deadlock, delving into the crisis on an agenda that has rocked the country and drawn international criticism.
Israeli police deployed a water cannon to disperse protesters gathered at a major intersection in Karkur, a city in northern Israel.
A video obtained by the Associated Press showed the water cannon spraying at protesters as they chanted “Democracy,” in Hebrew. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured.
Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and religious coalition allies pledged to move forward with the legal changes despite the demonstrations. Business executives, legal experts and retired military leaders have joined the protests, and Israeli reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty if the review passes.
In the latest phase of overhaul plans, Israel’s parliament on Monday moved forward a bill that would make it more difficult to oust Netanyahu over corruption charges against him, as it moves forward with its broader judiciary overhaul plan.