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President Herzog Expects Judicial Reform Compromise Soon

President Isaac Herzog

President Isaac Herzog speaking in the Knesset following his election as president of the State of Israel (Photo: The Knesset Channel)

President of Israel Isaac Herzog said Monday he believes the country is getting “closer than ever” to a compromise on the controversial judicial reforms of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the opposition charges would harm Israel’s democratic identity. The reforms would effectively end judicial review in Israel by stripping the courts’ power to serve as a “check” on laws passed by the Knesset and actions taken by the government.

Several weeks ago, President Herzog took the unusual step of addressing the Israeli public on the issue that has caused massive demonstrations against the government over the past two months. Military reservists, including air force pilots, have said publicly they would refuse to perform reserve duty if the judicial reforms are enacted.

The President’s remarks came at a meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem with 100 heads of local authorities from all over the country.

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“We are closer than ever to the possibility of an agreed outline,” said President Herzog stating that the sides have already reached “agreements behind the scenes on most things.”

“Now it depends on our national leadership,” he added, “the coalition and the opposition, who will succeed in rising to the magnitude of the moment, who will understand the terrible alternative that is hidden in the situation beyond the door and who will put the country and the citizens above everything.”

Herzog told those assembled that in the last few weeks he has, “done everything in my power and there are many people here who know me well – everything in my power to bring about dialogue and broad agreement,”

President Herzog added that he “I met everyone, meets everyone, talks to everyone, 24/7.

But the statement released by the leaders of the opposition in the Knesset, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, seemed to refute the President’s claim that there have already been agreements reached between the two sides.

In their statement, Lapid and Gantz continued to criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu for not engaging in legitimate negotiations which would require the suspension of the voting process for the reforms in the Knesset that have already passed the first stage of the legislative process.

“Our reaching out for the unity of Israel (to the government) was met with trampling and refusal,” they said. “Israel is on the brink of a national emergency, and Netanyahu refuses to stop. All attempts at shortcuts are a violation of real communication.”

Lapid and Gantz said they “greatly respect and appreciate” the efforts of the President of the State to reach broad negotiations and agreements. But in order to have negotiations with the government that would be worthwhile, “Netanyahu must announce a complete, comprehensive and real halt to the legislative process.”

They also called on the members of the coalition government to, “listen to the president!” and to, “Announce an immediate halt to the legislation and we will sit down to discuss the outline he is preparing.”

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