Israelis renewed their protests against judicial reforms at the weekend as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed for New York to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly, local media reported today.
Protesters and opposition leaders criticised Netanyahu for accusing those in the protests against his judicial reform of “joining forces with the PLO and Iran” against Israel. Those who campaign against his coalition government coalition’s judicial moves have vowed to hound Netanyahu during his travels and scheduled meetings.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid slammed Netanyahu’s comments, saying that it is the government’s actions that are aiding Israel’s enemies. “There is no person who has destroyed our image in the world more than Netanyahu in recent months,” the Times of Israel reported the Yesh Atid leader as saying. “Nothing helps the Iranians more than the [judicial] coup d’état of his government.”
Lapid added that Netanyahu’s accusations against the “patriots” of the protest are more proof of the serious disruption to his “judgment and understanding of reality.”
Meanwhile, National Unity leader Benny Gantz said that Netanyahu was causing “tremendous damage” to the country, and no amount of speeches at the UN would be able to repair it. “Netanyahu’s attack, accusing the protesters in the US of colluding with our enemies, is grave and worthy of all condemnation,” he added.
Even far-right Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman attacked the prime minister for his “shameless lies.”
As Netanyahu was leaving the country, thousands of protesters gathered at Ben Gurion Airport. Demonstrators in Tel Aviv began the evening by staging what they called the “Victory of Democracy March” from Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard. Many were clad in white for the Rosh Hashanah holiday, and some carried a large banner that declared “The dictatorship will collapse”. Others carried a large copy of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
“It’s a duty to stand up against those who scorn the Declaration of Independence and are turning Israel into a dictatorship,” said the Kaplan Force group.
As well as the main rally in Tel Aviv, smaller protests were held at dozens of locations around the country, reported the Times of Israel, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Rehovot, Eilat, Karkur and Kiryat Tevon.