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Dozens of Orthodox religious leaders urge dialogue around judicial reform

In an open letter, the leaders addressed their opponents as “dear and beloved brothers” and called for unity

Thousands wave the Israeli flag as they protest the proposed judicial overhaul, outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2023. (Photo: Erik Marmor/Flash90)

A group of senior rabbis and leaders from the religious Zionist movement issued an open letter calling for discussion and dialogue.

While the leaders are in favor judicial reform, they expressed concerns about the polarization of Israeli society in recent days.

"We are anxious about the talk of civil disobedience and bloodshed. This talk reinforces the positions on both sides and does not allow for substantive conversation and listening,” the leaders wrote, adding, “We have no doubt that even the majority of the public that opposes the reform does not agree with this divisive style.”

"In our opinion, legal reform is essential for democracy in the State of Israel. However, we hear pain and concern on your part and ask you to speak from heart to heart. We are sure that discourse is very much needed for the unity of the people and we are mobilized for it with all our might,” the letter stated.

The religious leaders – who mostly come from the more liberal side of the religious Zionist movement – said they view their opponents as “dear and beloved brothers,” and called for unity.

"We came from the four ends of the exile and created a glorious society despite all the gaps. We have built together a wonderful country despite enormous difficulties. We fought together shoulder to shoulder with the enemies from outside.”

The leaders’ open letter made reference to the five-point compromise proposed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday during his public address on primetime TV. Herzog’s proposal has been widely praised by those opposed to and in favor of reform.

There has been a growing sense of unease regarding the provocative language being used in discussions regarding the judicial reforms, with some of the opposition Knesset members making reference to weapons. Former Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, for example, says he is in favor of reform, "but not with a loaded gun on the table."

Recent polls show that most Israelis support halting or delaying the reform in order to allow time for debate and compromise.

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

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