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Netanyahu’s supporters in Israel choose to back a judicial scheme with a moral stance

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A major highway in Tel Aviv was blocked Thursday by thousands of right-wing Israelis who demonstrated in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.

“The nation demands legal reform!” Some of the demonstrators chanted while carrying blue and white Israeli flags.

The crowd was much smaller than the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets in recent months to demonstrate against the plan.

But the gathering had the same effect. Protesters honked their car horns and raised Israeli flags, paralyzing traffic along the Ayalon Highway, the main north-south road that runs through the port city.

Police said they were responding to the group blocking the highway, which has been the scene of almost weekly stops by protesters who see Netanyahu’s plan as a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

Due to domestic turmoil and expressions of concern and discontent in Washington, Netanyahu on Monday halted the reform process to allow negotiations on a settlement between his national religious coalition and opposition parties.

But his opponents vowed to continue their protests, too.

The plan would give Netanyahu’s parliamentary coalition control over judicial appointments and the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions it opposes.

Netanyahu and his allies say the plan is needed to rein in a system of activist, unelected judges who wield significant power over political affairs.

Opponents say the changes would destroy the system of checks and balances by concentrating too much power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies in parliament.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest while being tried on criminal charges and has no interference in the country’s legal system.

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