Israel's ongoing protests against the judicial reform made the headlines in the international press on Monday, with the demonstrations reaching their peak in a mass rally in front of the Knesset.
The protest in Jerusalem made the front page of the New York Times, in an article that stated it was the biggest-ever demonstration in the city.
"The country filled the streets outside parliament," the paper said. "The scale of the protest reflected a deep disagreement in Israeli society over the ideal structure and future of the country’s democratic institutions,” the paper wrote, adding the proposed legislation caused a deep divide and had raised fear of a civil war.
In its report, the New York Times said the mass protest in Jerusalem followed a dramatic speech by President Isaac Herzog, who warned that Israel is "on the brink of a judicial and social crisis."
According to the Washington Post, Israelis protested the reform in order to prevent Netanyahu from “weakening the country’s judicial system.”
The conservative Wall Street Journal wrote the government's overhaul the country’s top court, drew "tens of thousands of Israelis to protest the proposal in front of the Parliament, as workers across the country went on a general strike."
CNN reported that thousands stood in protest in Jerusalem “amid warnings that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to weaken the judiciary risks plunging the country into a ‘social collapse.’”
“Netanyahu’s coalition is seeking the most sweeping overhaul of the Israeli legal system since its founding,” CNN said. “The most significant of the changes would allow a simple majority in the Knesset to overturn Supreme Court rulings.”
The BBC also reported on the widespread protest, saying that Israelis “protested outside their parliament against controversial judicial reform plans which have divided the country.”
“Israel has seen some of its biggest demonstrations in years since the plans were unveiled last month,” the report added.
“If passed, they would curb the Supreme Court's power and give the government more say over judicial appointments. Critics say it will undermine democracy; the government argues the reforms will strengthen it,” the BBC said and noted that U.S. President Joe Biden criticized the move to the New York Times on Sunday, "a rarity for a U.S. leader to express an opinion on constitutional matters in Israel.”
UK's The Guardian, reported that “Israel’s new hard-right government has begun introducing sweeping legislation aimed at overhauling the judicial system,” noting that the protests were uniting many polarized elements in Israeli society over fears that the reform will set Israel on a path of democratic backsliding similar to that of Hungary Poland and Turkey in recent years.
Other international media outlets also responded to Herzog's speech, noting that his intervention in Israel’s politics is rare because his role is mostly symbolic.
News sites reported that Herzog proposed a compromise to both sides in an attempt to calm the waters. La Repubblica, one of the most popular newspapers in Italy, reported that "thousands in Israel are protesting against the judicial reform – while Herzog seeks to compromise."
The Reuters news agency described the uproar in the Knesset, over passing two initial clauses of the judicial reform. “Israeli lawmakers traded insults on Monday over government plans to overhaul the judiciary while tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside parliament.”
“The plans, which would give right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greater control of appointments to the bench and weaken the Supreme Court's ability to strike down legislation or rule against the executive, have triggered angry protests across Israel for weeks,” the agency added.
Reuters said the planned changes exposed a rift in Israeli society – pitting the "economic establishment and more liberal sections," against supporters of Netanyahu and his “right-wing religious and nationalist coalition allies.”
The French news agency AFP reported that “tens of thousands of Israelis protested outside parliament on Monday against the government's controversial judicial reform plan.”
According to AFP, Netanyahu’s government wants to give the coalition control over the judicial elections for the Supreme Court. The agency noted that people opposing the reform, including Chief Justice Esther Hayut, claim the legislation to be an attack on Israel’s independent judiciary.
AFP and other media outlets reported on the proposed override clause, being an important part of the judicial reform, and said Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s plans will give the Knesset the authority to overrule the decisions of the Supreme Court by a majority vote.
“Some of Netanyahu's critics have also tied the reform plan to his ongoing corruption trial,” the agency wrote, “arguing he is seeking to undermine a judicial system he has accused of targeting him unfairly for political reasons.”
Associated Press (AP), also mentioned in their report Netanyahu’s ongoing trial. “His opponents say that Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, has a deep conflict of interest. They say his planned overhaul will destroy the country’s democratic checks and balances and is a poorly disguised plot to make his criminal case go away,” the AP wrote.
"Netanyahu and his allies say the country’s unelected judges have too much power and need to be reined in," adding that the protest in Jerusalem was the largest one in the city in recent years.
According to AP, opponents of the reform believe that it will turn the Israeli regime into one similar to “Hungary and Poland in which the leader wields control over all major levers of power.”
The agency added that Netanyahu “lashed out at the country’s police, prosecutors and judges, saying he is the victim of a deep-state style conspiracy to oust him,” when his criminal trial began.
"His critics say he is motivated by a personal grudge and the plan will put Israel on a path similar to authoritarian countries like Hungary and Poland,” AP wrote.
The French outlet Le Monde, informed readers that the protest in Jerusalem was part of the demonstrations taking place for several weeks. "Every Saturday evening, protesters march - mainly in Tel Aviv but also in Jerusalem and Haifa (in northern Israel) - to protest against the legislation introduced by the government in January."
Qatar-based Al Jazeera also reported on the mass demonstration outside the Knesset while the legislation was being voted on in a contentious session of the Constitution, Law Justice Committee.
"Israel’s banks and tech sector warn that the changes risked undermining the civil institutions that underpin Israel’s economic prosperity," Al Jazeera reported.