Road pandemonium by protesters after “reasonableness” bill passes first reading

By a vote of 64 to 56, the Knesset passed after midnight July 11 its first reading of the controversial bill denying the High Court’s resort to “reasonableness” as its standard for striking down government and parliament’s decisions. The government’s judicial reform plan has generated 27 weeks of rallies by tens of thousands of protesters and opposition leaders who say it imperils democracy. The government claims that an overhaul of the judicial system is long overdue for correcting an imbalance that gives judges too much power over elected officials.

One of its measures was carried on Monday night after a heated debate in the face of the protest groups’ threat of extreme disruptions the next day. And indeed Tuesday dawned with demonstrators blocking major highways and intersections across the country: Highway 2 near Haifa, the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, and Highway 1 near Jerusalem and Begin Road in Jerusalem. For the first time, police used water cannon to clear the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.
Dozens of tents were set up at the Ha’Sira junction near Herzliya and tires set on fire on the road. Protest groups are planning a second invasion of the Ben Gurion international airport Terminal 3, after creating havoc there last week for 90,000 passengers at peak holiday season.

Police have asked the airport authorities to bar entry to non-ticket holders.

Police have resorted to motor bikes and scooters in an effort to keep major highways open for traffic. Protesters who have singled out ministers and deputies for rallies outside their homes must preserve a distance of 300 meters. The police while approving demonstrations as a legal right are concerned to prevent disturbances of the public order which they are committed to upholding. They are fearful that the disruptions promised by the protesters will bring forth violent responses from the opposite side of the political spectrum or furious drivers in gridlock and lead to clashes with casualties.

Another sign of protest comes from some military reservists, including pilots, who say they won’t turn up for service if the reform legislation goes through.  Also, dozens of tech companies on Saturday said workers who wished to do so could take the day off Tuesday to protest. In contrast, the Histadrut Labor Federation, the national umbrella of organized workers, Monday rejected the protest leaders’ bid to call on its millions of members to join their campaign. An appeal to large retail networks to close shops for the day also fell on deaf ears.

As did President Yitzhak Herzog’s appeal to cool the overheated debate by immediately renewing the dialogue he sponsored in search of a consensus.


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