Israel’s prime minister asserted that he will press on with his “responsible legal reforms”, despite continuing protests over them.
The passing of a new law on Thursday that makes it harder for courts to remove a leader deemed unfit for office has angered many people.
It is considered to be in the interests of the incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption.
Hours after the vote, opponents began what they called a “day of paralysis”.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv and other cities, and blocked major roads. A large Israeli flag and a banner with the declaration of independence were also draped over a wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Police used water cannon and mounted officers to disperse a crowd on a busy Tel Aviv highway and said they had arrested dozens of people across the country for public disturbance.
In the evening, protesters began marching towards the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, where there is widespread support for the government.
Amid the growing political turmoil at home, Netanyahu travelled to the UK on Thursday ahead of a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu vowed to “do everything to calm the situation and bring cohesion” and to reach a solution acceptable to both supporters and critics of the proposal.
But he promised to press ahead with the reforms, including plans to give the government full control over the committee which appoints judges, which he has said will pass in the Knesset next week.
“We cannot allow any dispute to endanger our collective future,” he said.
Opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapid, has dismissed Mr Netanyahu’s promises as “lies”.
“Stop the attempt to turn us into an undemocratic country,” Mr Lapid urged the prime minister. “Listen to the hundreds of thousands of loyal patriots who took to the streets.”
Netanyahu explained that the reforms are designed to stop the courts over-reaching their powers and that they were voted for by the public at the last election.