Protests and strikes bring Israel to a standstill

Protests and strikes bring Israel to a standstill

It's being described as one of the biggest protests in Israeli history. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have been demonstrating for the past 12 weeks. The protesters are calling for an end to a judicial reform bill that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right wing party proposed months ago.

The bill will reduce the powers of the judiciary and give the executive and legislative arm of government more powers over the judiciary. In the proposed bill, the government will now have to say over the appointment of judges as against the usual process in which a nine-member committee selects judges. The bill will also give the Knesset (parliament) powers to override supreme court decisions.

Supporters of the bill say the supreme court has been overstepping it's jurisdiction and more power should be given to elected officials not supreme court judges but protesters and the opposition party say it's a threat to democracy and a move towards dictatorship.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now in a difficult position. Some hardline members of his coalition want him to push ahead despite huge protests and oppositions that have only grown. Netanyahu's party which controls the Knesset is a coalition which involves right wing hardliners, they are crucial to his stay in power because any cracks in the coalition could lead to its collapse and another round of elections.

Israel's biggest union called for strikes, and it has brought activities at the two biggest ports to a standstill and left the major airport partially grounded. Nurses have said they'll join the strike, malls have closed, universities have cancelled classes, and more importantly, there has been growing disdain towards the bill in the military. The US, Israel's biggest ally, has called for a compromise to bring an end to the crisis. All eyes are now on prime minister Netanyahu to know his next line of action, which will be crucial for Israel's future.

Onyeije Emmanuel Chizurum
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