Tens of thousands of Israelis were expected to take to the streets in mass rallies on Saturday evening against the far-right government and the racist-clerical coalition legislative efforts to dramatically weaken the High Court of Justice and secure political control over judicial appointments. A first reading of some of the controversial proposals is set for Monday; a bill must pass three readings to become law, and the coalition has indicated it seeks to blitz the legislation through the Knesset by April.
Hadash demonstrators and Anti-Occupation Bloc activists marching in Tel-Aviv with red and Palestinian flags, Saturday evening, February 4, 2023 (Photo: Hagai Matar)
The central protest on Saturday is set to begin with a march from Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, with the main gathering to be held at Kaplan Street. Rallies are also to set to take place in cities and towns across the country, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Ashdod, Karmiel, Petah Tikva and 30 localities across the country.
Protest leaders have called for a nationwide worker strike on Monday to coincide with the first rounds of voting on the legislation, an escalation in the demonstrations against the contentious proposals.
Thousands of Israeli doctors and mental health professionals announced that they will be absent from their workplace on Monday and will join the demonstrations against the government. “This is a matter of saving lives, and we do it out of commitment to our patients, and for the future of Israel,” healthcare professionals said in a statement.
According to a poll aired by Channel 12 news on Friday evening, showed that, asked if they supported stopping or postponing the process, 31% said it should be halted, 31% said it should be put off, 24% said it should continue and 14% said they didn’t know.
The poll also found that among voters for Netanyahu’s bloc of coalition parties, 42% supported stopping or delaying, while 45% said the process should go on.
The survey found significant backing for the nationwide strike, with 28% of respondents supporting the move though they will not strike themselves, 22% planning to strike and 31% opposing the action. Nineteen percent did not know.
Inside Netanyahu’s bloc, a somewhat surprising 27% backed the strike, while 56% opposed and 17% did not know.