Israelis rally against Netanyahu legal reforms

STORY: In Tel Aviv, protester Assaf Steinberg told Reuters he was there to oppose the new government's "anti-democratic" steps. "They are trying to destroy democratic structure of the Israeli state. They are working against the article of independence, that is the bases of the Israeli democracy and trying with their draconic rules to destroy what Ben Gurion has started here, and this can be the start of the end of the Jewish state as we know it."

Jacoub Yosha echoed the sentiment, saying, "The current coalition in Israel would like to change the regime to make us like dark regime in the world. We will not accept it and we will fight for this democracy."

In Jerusalem, protesters underlined the importance of checks and balances and an independent judiciary in a democracy.

"I am concerned that the so-called reform that they are trying to pass is undermining checks and balances in the Israeli democracy," Baruch Feldstern told Reuters.

While Gil Librwski said, "We need a strong independence justice system and the new government trying to erase it."

Backed by a religious-nationalist coalition with a solid parliamentary majority, Netanyahu wants to rein in the Supreme Court in what he has described as a restoration of the balance of the three branches of government.

Critics, who include the Supreme Court chief justice and the country's attorney-general, say the proposed reforms would cripple judicial independence, foster corruption, set back minority rights and deprive Israel's courts system of credibility that helps fend off war-crimes allegations abroad.

Israeli media said some 80,000 attended the Tel Aviv rally, with thousands more protesting in Jerusalem and Haifa.