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As judicial reform compromise negotiations drag on, Herzog urges parties to make progress

Report on Israeli radio claims negotiators are close to agreements on two issues

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks during an event for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 75th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem, April 26, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With judicial reform negotiations resuming, following the end of Operation Shield and Arrow, many Israelis are concerned that talks will fail. 

Judicial reform compromise negotiations started in late March and, so far, there has been little sign of progress. 

Yisrael Beytenu party chair Avigdor Liberman called on opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to end the negotiations with the coalition, saying “participation is legitimizing something that is totally illegitimate.” 

Liberman’s comments came on Monday, the day before judicial reform negotiations resumed, following the military campaign in Gaza. 

Liberman responded to recent polls which showed broad public support for the negotiations by saying, “I understand that the public wants dialogue, but our job is to lead the public.” 

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Yariv Levin reportedly threatened to leave his position if the reforms did not pass in the current Knesset session, which will end on July 30. 

On Monday, Israeli Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chair Simcha Rothman said that if judicial reform negotiations do not succeed, the coalition would pass some of the reform laws. 

With the negotiations over the Judicial Selection Committee becoming increasingly tense, both coalition and opposition members have accused the other party of attempting to “blow up the negotiations.” 

On Tuesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog made an unexpected visit to the negotiations, where he reportedly told the gathered teams, “It’s money time.” 

Herzog has been hosting the negotiations at his residence, but reportedly had stepped back to allow the groups to come to their own agreements. 

Speaking to the parties, he challenged them to “remain in dialogue.” 

“I understand that there are difficulties, but the people want agreements. The challenge is to remain in dialogue. I understand the pressures and what you are going through, but this is a moment of leadership. The majority of the public wants us to come out of this with a solution, and it takes time,” Herzog told them. 

“There are crucial and important issues at stake here,” he said. “We know how aggressive and power-driven politics are, and there is no doubt that there are forces that want to undermine [the negotiations],” he added.

Israel's Kan Reshet Bet radio show reported this morning that the two sides have made progress on at least two issues in the negotiations. 

The first relates to the so-called “reasonableness” standard of laws and government decisions. While the second has to do with the status of legal advisors to the government. 

The Israeli Supreme Court has used the “reasonableness” standard to overrule laws and government decisions in the past. A recent example is when the court ruled that the appointment of Aryeh Deri to two ministerial positions was “extremely unreasonable” due to his plea bargain agreement in a tax fraud case, in which he allegedly promised to leave politics. 

Gantz has vowed to stay in negotiations “as long as there is progress.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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