JERUSALEM, March 16 (Reuters) – Jerusalem woke up on Thursday to the sight of a long red line painted by protesters along roads leading to Israel’s Supreme Court hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a compromise deal for his government’s planned judicial reform turned down.
Police said they had arrested five people who disguised themselves as workers at night to carry out the protest.
Drone footage showed a small group of people in protective suits spraying a wide red stripe along largely deserted roads leading from a police and magistrates complex to the Supreme Court in central Jerusalem.
A slogan stenciled in red on the road in Hebrew, Arabic and English along the side of the road read: “Draw the line.”
The far-right government’s drive to limit the Supreme Court’s powers while increasing its own power in selecting judges has raised alarms in Israel and abroad about the country’s democratic checks and balances, as protests have already begun. swelling for weeks.
In what they called “a day of resistance,” protesters blocked roads around Tel Aviv’s commercial center and in other cities. In the port of Haifa, a few flag-waving protesters on boats, including former marines, tried to block the jetties.
“We are here to protest against our democracy, our country, because we feel that our country is being brutally attacked by the government, the Israeli government,” said choreographer Renana Raz in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu, who left late Wednesday for a state visit to Germany, which has expressed concern over the court plan, said a compromise proposal outlined by President Isaac Herzog would not restore balance between the branches of government.
His nationalist-religious coalition says the Supreme Court too often goes too far and intervenes in political matters it has no mandate to decide. Defenders of the court say it is a bulwark of democracy, protecting rights and freedoms.
Economists, legal experts and former security chiefs have warned that the judicial plan, which has not yet been enacted into law, will wreak havoc on the country’s economy and isolate Israel internationally.
Netanyahu, who faces corruption charges he denies, says it will strengthen democracy and boost business. Members of his coalition driving the changes hope to get final approval from parliament on April 2.
Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem and Dedi Hayoun in Tel Aviv; Written by Maayan Lubell; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky
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