Following yesterday’s dramatic upset, in which an opposition representative was elected to the Judicial Selection Committee with no coalition representative chosen, the opposition has said it will cease negotiations until the committee appointments are complete.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said there will not be any negotiations without a committee. He blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Netanyahu knows very well what the implications of his actions are. They were made clear to him by President Issac Herzog and by us. If there is no panel to select judges, there will be no talks to reach a broad agreement on a judicial reform,” Lapid said Wednesday evening after the vote concluded.
Lapid added that Netanyahu gave in to pressure from coalition partners, despite promising Herzog that the committee would be established according to tradition, that is, with one coalition and one opposition representative.
Netanyahu denied that he had made such a promise to the Israeli president and accused the opposition of looking for an excuse to halt the negotiations from the start.
“Today it finally became clear that Gantz and Lapid looked for any way to blow up the talks,” Netanyahu said in a video statement after the vote. He said that Gantz had already promised to “blow up the talks.”
“Gantz said yesterday that if the coalition elects two representatives to the Judicial Selection Committee, he will blow up the talks. Well, that didn't happen, but he continues to threaten,” Netanyahu claimed.
He said opposition representatives “rejected every proposal” submitted by the coalition during negotiations.
“Gantz and Lapid don’t want real negotiations,” he accused. “I promise you that unlike them, we’ll act responsibly for our country.”
He reiterated his call for honest negotiations.
“So I say to the opposition, stop the threats, stop the excuses, after three months of rejecting every compromise proposal we bring – sit down with us seriously, enter into real negotiations and we will finally reach agreements.”
On Thursday morning, Lapid referred to the actions of four Knesset members from the coalition who voted for opposition Knesset Member Karine Elharrar to the Judicial Selection Committee.
“The Knesset members from the coalition who came behind the curtain and voted for MK Karine Elharrar did not switch parties, they did not receive any promises, they did it because they are decent people and are no longer willing to be part of the mechanism of destruction of Israeli society,” Lapid said. “I am full of appreciation for this.”
Lapid said the move represented “the beginning of a new Israeli covenant” that “does not focus on right or left or center but focuses on the attempt to preserve the State of Israel.”
“We will continue to work with them to ensure the safety of Israeli democracy. Some of them tell us, ‘Even with open voting, we will not cooperate with what harms the State of Israel. We were not elected to the Knesset to serve extremists and messianics,'” added Lapid.
His remarks came at a conference at Reichman University on Thursday morning, as he spoke on the topic: “How should a prime minister behave?”
Protest leaders said Netanyahu’s actions on Wednesday demonstrate he is not serious about compromise. They called on demonstrators to continue protesting.
“Netanyahu chose war against democracy, and we will win it,” they said in a statement after the voting results were announced.
Most of the protest leaders are against any form of judicial reform. They have repeatedly called on the opposition to abandon negotiations.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.