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Israelis protest government's plans to weaken Supreme Court amid talks for compromise

TEL AVIV (AP) — Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against contentious plans by their hard-line government to overhaul the judiciary, as the protest campaign showed no signs of abating nearly five months on.

The main protest took place in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub on the Mediterranean, with smaller other rallies across the country. Last Saturday, organizers of the grassroot demonstration cancelled the weekly protest due to security concerns as Israel traded fire with militants in the Gaza Strip.

The protesters want the plans that were proposed by the most hard-line government in Israel’s history to be scrapped rather than delayed as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in March.

Earlier this week, Israel’s president hosted representatives of the government and opposition parties for talks about the legal changes as parties tried to reach a compromise.

The plans plunged Israel into one of its worst domestic crises, ripping open longstanding societal rifts and creating new ones. While the freeze in the legislation eased tensions somewhat, Netanyahu’s allies are pushing him to move ahead on the overhaul.

Proponents of the plan, which would weaken the Supreme Court and limit judicial oversight on legislation and government decisions, say it is necessary to rein in what they say is an interventionist court and restore power to elected lawmakers.

Opponents say it would upset Israel’s delicate system of checks and balances and imperil its democratic fundamentals.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, faced a barrage of criticism over the legal plan from a broad swath of Israeli society, including business leaders, the booming tech sector and military reservists, who threatened not to show up for duty if the plan was approved