President Isaac Herzog once again made a call for unity in Israel in the wake of the continuing discord and massive demonstrations against the judicial reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The President’s latest comments came at a meeting Sunday of the 929 Project Hebrew Bible study group.
This was the second time in a week that Israel’s President has taken the dramatic step of making a public call for unity and compromise on the proposed judicial reforms. Last week he asked the government to postpone presenting its plans to the Knesset, but the Netanyahu government is still moving forward with its proposed legislation.
President Herzog told the assembled people he is worried about what is happening in Israeli society and that the country faces a “fateful test.”
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“I see the rifts and fissures between us,” he said, “which are becoming deeper and more painful at this time.”
President Isaac Herzog held meetings and communications with all sides of Israel’s political spectrum and influential figures from Israeli society over the past week with the aim of doing everything he could to reach an agreement. Herzog said that based on these discussions it is possible to come to agreements in “a relatively short timeframe. Even in a matter of days. Not years, not even months.”
“I am unequivocally certain, speaking from experience and my position: we can reach a consensus,” said President Isaac Herzog. “We all hear the voices from the public, eager for dialogue, eager for responsibility, eager for an outstretched hand. We must not give up on our Israeli togetherness. We must not give up on our Jewish and democratic state.”
But Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has not heeded the President’s calls and the proposed reforms are being reviewed by the Knesset.
On Saturday night, for the seventh straight week, Israelis took to the streets to protest against the judicial reform plan proposed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that would strip Israel’s Supreme Court of its power to review laws passed by the Knesset and government actions. More than 100,000 people came out in Tel Aviv alone, where many went onto the city’s Ayalon freeway and blocked traffic.
The opposition maintains that the proposed reforms would harm Israel’s character as a democratic nation since they would end any check on the powers of the government. They have even gone so far as to describe the proposed reforms as a coup d’etat.