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Israel’s Mossad denies role in protests against judicial overhaul

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency on Sunday denied US reports about its role in encouraging mass protests against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over controversial judicial overhaul.

The New York Times and Washington Post newspapers cited a Pentagon document dated March 1 saying that the Mossad leadership “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest the new Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government, according to signals intelligence.”

But a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office on behalf of the Mossad said these US reports were “completely false and absurd.”

“The Mossad and its officials did not and do not encourage employees in the organization to go to demonstrations against the government, to political demonstrations in general, or to any political activity,” the statement said.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis demonstrated for the 14th consecutive week against Netanyahu’s plans for judicial reform, which have triggered mass protests across Israel over the past weeks.

The Israeli opposition views the judicial overhaul plans as an attempt to reduce the powers of the judicial authority in favor of the executive.

Netanyahu, however, insists that his judicial plans would enhance democracy and restore the balance between the legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

On March 27, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, bowed to pressure and announced a temporary halt to the judicial overhaul plans.

* Writing by Ahmed Asmar

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