Israel’s president calls to scrap judicial overhaul as protests mount

Israel’s president urged the regime’s cabinet to abandon attempts to push through bitterly contested plans to overhaul the judiciary and seek a model with broad support as tens of thousands of protesters returned to the streets on Thursday.
The drive by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right cabinet to enact sweeping changes to Israel’s courts has sparked domestic uproar and alarm among the regime’s Western allies. If the proposal passed, it would mean greater cabinet’s sway in selecting judges and limit the power of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation.
After weeks of demonstrations that have exposed deep divisions in Israeli society, President Isaac Herzog, who has been mediating between the sides, warned in a televised prime time address of a “disaster”.
He said Israel had reached a “point of no return” and called on the coalition cabinet to rethink the proposed legislation, which is strongly backed by nationalist and religious parties.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left on a visit to Rome, he had to elude flag-waving Israelis who clogged the access routes to Ben Gurion Airport with motor convoys.
The interventions by Herzog and Austin underlined the unusual depth of concern over the proposals, which Netanyahu – on trial on graft charges he denies – says are needed to rein in what it calls activist judges who have interfered in political decision making.
Tens of thousands have demonstrated and some military reservists have also refused to show up for training exercises.
The Israeli air force said on Thursday that it had dismissed a reservist officer in the military for trying to orchestrate group walkouts from training flights as part of a spreading protest at judicial reforms.


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