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Organizers are hoping for greater turnout at the Tel Aviv protest this weekend following Deri's ruling.

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A week after 80,000 people packed the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, another mass protest against the government and its policies is planned for this weekend.

Smaller protests are also expected to take place in Jerusalem and Haifa and elsewhere across the country. After skipping last week’s events, opposition leader Yair Lapid said on Wednesday he would attend this weekend.

With the weather forecast clear – after the latest protest was beset by rain – organizers are hoping for even greater turnout, potentially boosted by the Supreme Court’s bombshell decision this week declaring Shas chief Aryeh Deri unfit to be a minister. from the government.

The main protest in Tel Aviv will be split, with one organizer, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, staying in Habima Square for the second consecutive weekend, while other organizers will move less than a kilometer (half a mile) away. away to the intersection of Kaplan and Begin Streets.

“Faced with the threat of the collapse of Israeli democracy, we must be determined and show the government that we will not stand by,” said the Movement for Quality Government, saying the two separate protest centers were due to an expectation that more people will participate this weekend.

“The masses that flooded [Habima] The square and surrounding streets were just the beginning of a battle that will only escalate.”

Thousands of people protest against the Israeli government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on January 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Protest group Black Flag said it would focus its efforts on Kaplan Street and called on opposition politicians to attend.

“Following the attack on the justice system over Deri’s disqualification and calls from within the coalition to disobey the decision, the demonstration organizers are calling on opposition party leaders to announce that they will attend the mass demonstration and stand at the head of the protest march,” Black Flags said in a statement.

The organizing group said on Thursday it had seen an increase in interest in participating following the High Court ruling.

Last weekend’s protest focused on the government’s proposal to massively overhaul the judicial system, with plans to increase political control over the selection of judges and bar the Supreme Court from exercising judicial oversight of Knesset laws and policies. governmental.

After the judges’ decision that Deri could not serve as Minister of the Interior and Health in the government, some coalition figures said they would not abide by the court’s decision or seek to overturn it.

Following the ruling, the anti-Netanyahu Minister of Crime protest group called on the public to take to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and Modiin.

“We will shout ‘no to dictatorship,’” Black Flags said. “Let’s start there and keep going – until this bad government and the person who leads it are overthrown.”

National Unity leader MK Benny Gantz arrives at an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv on January 14, 2023. (Naomi Lanzkron/Times of Israel)

Many political figures, in addition to Lapid, are expected to attend the Tel Aviv protest.

“We are stopping the madness [and] fighting for the country in Haifa, in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv,” the opposition leader said in a video posted on social media on Wednesday. “Come and protect our beloved country from democratic ruin. Yes, I will be there too.”

At the latest demonstration on Saturday, police estimated that around 80,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square and surrounding streets for the protests, while smaller demonstrations were held in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Among those present in Tel Aviv last weekend were former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, National Unity party leader and former defense minister Benny Gantz, former head of the IDF and National Unity lawmaker Gadi Eisenkot, Labor party leader Merav Michaeli and Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas.

A day after last week’s protest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed aside the criticism and argued that the planned changes would strengthen democracy rather than hasten its demise. He also maintains that the government is fulfilling the will of the people.

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