Demonstrators take to the streets days after Israeli PM Netanyahu’s decision to freeze the controversial proposal.
Thousands of Israelis have protested in Tel Aviv for the 13th straight week against a controversial judicial overhaul that has now been suspended by the government while talks are held with party representatives.
Carrying Israeli flags on Saturday, people marched through the centre of Israel’s commercial hub, chanting “democracy” and carrying placards condemning the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Smaller rallies were taking place in other cities.
Demonstrations erupted in January after the coalition announced its reform package, which the government says is necessary to rebalance powers between parliamentarians and the judiciary.
The proposed reforms would curtail the authority of the Supreme Court and give politicians greater powers over the selection of judges, which opponents have said could imperil Israeli democracy.
On Monday, Netanyahu announced a pause in the passage of the necessary legislation through parliament, in the face of a general strike triggered by his announcement that he was firing Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for calling for just such a pause.
Talks for compromise
By Tuesday, representatives of most of parliament’s parties had begun talks at the residence of President Isaac Herzog to try to formulate legislation that would be acceptable to both sides of the political spectrum.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Tel Aviv, said that a wide spectrum of the Israeli population was against Netanyahu’s plans for a judicial overhaul.
“A lot of people here don’t believe the prime minister when he says he will genuinely engage in consultations,” he said.
He added that Netanyahu is under a lot of pressure from his far-right allies to press on with the judicial reforms despite the nationwide protests against the move.
Critics have viewed the government’s drive as a threat to the court’s independence and an attempt at a legal coup. Proponents have said it is seeking a less elitist, interventionist bench.
Netanyahu, on trial for corruption charges he has denied, said reforms are needed to balance the branches of government. His Likud party and political allies in the far-right have been calling on their political base to stage counter-demonstrations.
Israeli media estimated more than 150,000 people attended anti-government protests nationwide on Saturday.
Many political commentators and opposition figures have voiced scepticism about the chances of Herzog’s mediation efforts, with the coalition saying it would complete legislation in the next parliamentary session if talks failed.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has not presented Gallant with the dismissal letter required by law, so the defence minister has been going about his duties as usual.