Press "Enter" to skip to content

UK demonstrators protest Israeli prime minister’s visit to London

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence in London as protesters shouting “Shame!” in Hebrew demonstrated against the Israeli leader’s right-wing policies and his government’s plans to overhaul the country’s judiciary.

Netanyahu had to pass by hundreds of protesters waving Israeli flags and waving signs calling for the defence of Israeli democracy as he arrived on Friday for talks that are expected to focus on concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Netanyahu arrived in London as protesters back home in Israel blocked roads and clashed with police over his right-wing government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system. 

The proposals have ignited the biggest protests in the country’s history amid rare dissent from people throughout Israeli society, including military reservists, navy veterans, high-tech businesspeople and former officials.

Netanyahu’s proposals would give his government more control over judicial appointments, weaken the Supreme Court by limiting judicial review of legislation and allow Parliament to overturn court decisions with a simple majority vote.

Israel’s attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara also warned Netanyahu on Friday that he has violated the Supreme Court’s conflict of interest ruling, which barred him from direct involvement in his government’s divisive plans for a judicial overhaul.

The deal Netanyahu was pressed to sign in 2020 prevented him from being involved in legislative issues or key judicial appointments that could affect his ongoing trial.

Israel makes arrests as thousands protest amendment to Basic Law

‘Upholding democratic values’

“Your statement last night and any further actions by you that violate that agreement are completely illegal and in conflict of interest,” Baharav-Miara wrote in Friday’s letter. “The legal situation is clear — you must avoid any involvement in measures to change the judicial system.”

The Israeli government has also been criticised for its hard-line policy toward Palestinians, including recent comments by a government minister who denied the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.

Sunak “stressed the importance of upholding the democratic values that underpin our relationship, including in the proposed judicial reforms in Israel”, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a summary of the two leaders’ meeting.

During their meeting, the two leaders discussed “the UK and Israel’s significant concern about Iran’s destabilising activity” and the risk of “nuclear proliferation” posed by its atomic programme, Downing Street said.

They also talked about the war in Ukraine and developments in the Middle East, its statement noted.

Sunak “expressed his solidarity with Israel in the face of terrorist attacks in recent months” while noting unspecified actions risked “undermining efforts” towards a two-state solution with the Palestinians, it added.

“He encouraged all efforts to de-escalate, particularly ahead of the upcoming religious holidays.”

Israel makes arrests as thousands protest amendment to Basic Law

More from Middle EastMore posts in Middle East »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *