Tens of thousands of Israelis protest against judicial overhaul

© Ohad Zwigenberg, AP

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated across the country Saturday in the 10th consecutive week of protests against government judicial reform plans critics view as a threat to democracy.

The demonstrations come as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right government prepares to press on with its legislative agenda next week, shunning calls for a pause to allow for negotiations on the divisive plan.

The biggest demonstration, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, drew some 100,000 protesters, according to estimates given by Israeli media.

Many of them were waving blue and white Israeli flags.

Demonstrations were held in other cities and towns in the country of more then nine million inhabitants.

Some 50,000 Israelis protested in the northern city of Haifa and 10,000 in Beersheba -- the biggest yet in both -- according to Israeli media.

The chair of parliament's law committee, Simcha Rotman, has scheduled daily hearings on parts of the government's reforms from Sunday through Wednesday ahead of votes.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin has said the coalition plans to pass key elements of the reforms before parliament goes into recess on April 2.

The judicial overhaul is a cornerstone of Netanyahu's administration, an alliance with ultra-Orthodox Jewish and extreme-right parties which took office in late December.

These provisions have already been endorsed by lawmakers at first reading.


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