Netanyahu presses forward with judicial reforms despite mass protests

Protests against judicial reforms in Israel.
Protests against judicial reforms in Israel. Saeed Qaq/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he would be moving ahead with plans to enact sweeping reforms to the country's judiciary system, despite a thousands-strong protest the night before imploring him not to do so.

Netanyahu, who was elected prime minister for the third time this past November, has made the judicial changes a key part of his government's agenda. The Associated Press noted that the controversial plan would weaken the power of the Israeli Supreme Court, instead giving the legislature sole power to pass laws that the court had previously struck down. The reforms would also put a damper on a number of democratic institutions in the country, per AP. 

The potential reforms have been met with protests across Israel, and a crowd of at least 80,000 contested Netanyahu's plans during a massive protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Similar protests were also seen in Jerusalem and Haifa.

During a cabinet meeting with ministers, however, Netanyahu brushed aside the protests and pledged to enact the reforms despite the controversy.

"Millions of people went into the streets in order to vote in the elections. One of the main topics that they voted on was reforming the judicial system," Netanyahu said, per a press release from the prime minister's office. "We will make the necessary changes in the judicial system, prudently and responsibly ... [voters] knew about the intention to enact a comprehensive reform of the judicial system. What's more, they demanded it from us."

Amidst rising tensions, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has called on lawmakers to "lower the temperature" and work together, per The Times of Israel

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