The leaders of a group called Israel’s Business Forum met with members of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party to warn the government that, in their opinion, its judicial reform plan currently before the Knesset, if passed, will harm Israel’s economy. In doing so, they joined former governors of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug and Jacob Frenkel who expressed such sentiments by writing in an op-ed that the judicial reform plan would “deal a severe blow to the economy and its citizens.” And many Israeli businesses have already announced plans to take their money out of the country due to such concerns.
And now even a group of 180 Israel Air Force reserve pilots threatened to boycott reserve duty in protest over the judicial reform plan as well.
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Massive protests have rocked Israel over the past few months, ever since Justice Minister Yariv Levin revealed the government’s plans to alter the nature of Israel’s judicial system. The government’s judicial reform plan would greatly curtail the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to nullify legislation passed by the Knesset and also limit the authority of Israel’s attorney general. The opposition charges this would harm Israel’s democracy, eroding foreign confidence in the country and hurting its economy. And this is why the country is now on the brink of what some are describing as the biggest societal clash in Israel’s history.
The protests heated up after Benjamin Netanyahu’s government adamantly rejected a compromise plan on the judicial reform proposed by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog. When releasing his compromise plan, Herzog warned that the country is so divided now that it could end up in a civil war. And since the President’s speech, acts of violence against the anti-government protestors have increased.
In a letter they released, the Business Forum leaders wrote, “We grew up with and were educated according to the fundamental ideas and principles of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel and of the independence of the system of justice in the State of Israel.”
They explained that in all of their businesses in industry and trade, real estate, hotels, banking and finance, “men and women, secular and religious people, Arabs and Jews, people of the right, center and left, the entire political spectrum, work together in full harmony and with mutual respect.” They also said that they are, collectively, in charge of over 500,000 employees in the Israeli economy.
As such, they said, “we are scrupulous about full equality of rights and respectful discourse in our companies, and wish to bring to the attention of the public that in talks we have held in the past few weeks and days with the president of the state and with members of Knesset from the coalition and the opposition, we made them aware of our economic assessment and the heavy fear of economic deterioration in the country as a result of continuation of the advancement of the legal reform in the form and the way that this has been done up to now.”