Mass protests took place on Thursday across Israel after its parliament passed a controversial law that demonstrators claim brings the country’s judicial system, and democracy, into disrepute.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition passed a motion that would protect the Israeli leader from being deemed unfit to rule or asked to resign – no matter the circumstances.
Israeli media say the law is calculated and a tailor-made move by Netanyahu to shield himself from ongoing corruption charges. The prime minister is facing three separate trials on charges, which he denies, of bribery and fraud.
Democracy advocates and groups had called for a “Day of Paralysis” in protest against the disputed bill, with as many as 500,000 people expected to participate in rallies across the country, according to Israeli media.
The government’s plan has proven grossly unpopular across large swathes of society, including top legal officials and business leaders. Even the country’s military ranks have cast their disapproval, with reports of reservists refusing to show up for service over the changes. It has also drawn from international allies.
Protesters launched a fourth midweek day of demonstrations in their bid to push back on the government, which has slowed the pace of its legislating. However, Netanyahu’s government pledges to carry on with its decision to overhaul the judiciary with more attempts at changes expected.