For nearly three months, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to Israel’s streets weekly to demonstrate against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary.
The plan, even as Netanyahu announced a delay in the overhaul on Monday, divided an already highly polarized country and galvanized a fractured opposition that was still reeling from defeat in November’s elections, Israel’s fifth in under four years.
After taking office in December, Netanyahu and his allies announced they would pass a series of laws to limit the Supreme Court’s powers and give politicians greater control over judicial appointments. Striking a more conciliatory tone Monday than in previous speeches, Netanyahu said he is still determined to pass a judicial reform but called for “an attempt to achieve broad consensus.”
The protests have drawn from a broad swath of Israeli society: young and old, religious and secular, residents of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and beyond.
With “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes, sharp-witted signs and the ubiquitous blue-and-white national flag, the protesters have blocked main highways, disrupted daily life and taken the fight to Netanyahu’s ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox government.