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Huge Protest March Reaches Jerusalem After 5-Day Trek From Tel Aviv

Tens of thousands of protesters reached Jerusalem on Saturday, some having walked 40 miles from Tel Aviv. The march highlighted the depth of opposition to a government plan to restrain the judiciary.

night that it was holding an emergency meeting in response to the government’s plan, amid speculation that it could call a general strike.

 

A tent city sprang up in a Jerusalem park below the Parliament building as some of the protesters who had marched to the city settled in for what could be more stormy days of protest ahead.

 

Hundreds of thousands of other protesters simultaneously held rallies in scores of cities across the country for a 29th consecutive week. A group representing military reservists from all branches of the army announced that about 10,000 Israelis have declared that they would stop showing up for reserve duty if the law was passed, in addition to more than 1,000 Air Force members who made similar threats in recent days.

 

And a group of former senior Israeli security leaders released a joint letter calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone a vote on the law unless it was revised by consensus, citing the reservists’ protests and the resulting risks to Israel’s military capacity.

 

Signing the letter were three former military chiefs; five former heads of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service; three former directors of the Shin Bet, the internal security agency; and four former police commissioners.

 

Adding to the uncertainty Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu was taken to the hospital to have a pacemaker implanted during a procedure in which he would be placed under sedation, his office said.

 

Negotiations to reach an 11th-hour compromise over the judicial dispute are still underway, and could result in the plan being watered down or postponed. But for now, lawmakers are expected to hold a binding vote on the law on Monday in Parliament, where the ruling coalition has a four-seat majority.

 

The law would prevent the court from overruling the national government using the legal standard of “reasonableness,” a concept that judges previously used to block ministerial appointments and to contest planning decisions, among other government measures.

 

The government and its supporters say that the new legislation will improve democracy by restoring the balance of power between elected lawmakers and unelected judges, and giving lawmakers greater freedom to implement the policies that the majority of voters chose at the ballot box.

 

“The proper balance between the authorities has been disturbed over the past decades,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech Thursday. “This balance must be restored so that the democratic choice of the people may find expression by the government that was elected by the people.”

 

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