Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed on Thursday to Israeli politicians from his government and the opposition to keep protests at his judicial overhaul plan away from annual remembrances for slain soldiers and victims of militant attacks.
Meanwhile, an organiser of the televised 75th Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem that will follow Memorial Day next week said cameras would cut away from anyone trying to disrupt it.
Israel has been swept by unprecedented street demonstrations since Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition introduced reforms that would rein in the Supreme Court. He says the goal is a balance of powers. Critics fear for judicial independence.
Despite a late-March pause Netanyahu ordered on legislation to allow for compromise negotiations, protests have persisted and may possibly overshadow the country’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, which take place back-to-back next week.
Faced with the prospect of solemn family visits at military cemeteries for Tuesday’s Memorial Day being disrupted, Netanyahu issued a video statement asking that the bereaved “be allowed to commune in silence with the memory of their loved ones”.
“Over recent months, an argument that is important for democracy has been waged within us. But during these days, I request that all public officials, from right and left, put aside that argument,” said Netanyahu, whose elder brother Yoni was killed leading a 1976 rescue of hostages at Entebbe.
After nightfall, Israel’s Mount Herzl military cemetery will be transformed with pageantry to usher in Independence Day.
The centrist leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, has said he will boycott that ceremony, tweeting: “You (the government) have torn Israeli society asunder, and no fake firework show will cover that up.”
Moshik Aviv, director of the ceremony, said a recording of a rehearsal was on hand to cut to should the event be disrupted by members of the audience – who, he added, would be screened for any items that might be used to mount a protest.
“We don’t want to engineer perceptions, but we do want to convey our main message, which is that the substance of the ceremony is what is positive and unifying,” he told Army Radio.