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Israeli president addresses the nation on primetime TV in an attempt to halt the proposed judicial reforms

Herzog requests that no reforms undergo a first reading, until there is wide agreement on how to proceed

A woman watches Israeli President Isaac Herzog's speech on the proposed changes to the judicial system, at a home in Kibbutz Mishmar David, Feb. 12, 2023. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90

President Isaac Herzog this evening addressed Israeli citizens in a primetime broadcast to speak about the very disruptive upheaval the country is presently experiencing as a result of the proposed judicial reforms of the new government. Herzog spoke about how he spent time meeting with a wide cross section of Israelis –from every segment of society – over the past couple of weeks.

While he acknowledged there are those who agree and those who disagree with the proposed reforms, he expressed great concern over the deep wedge it has brought into the country, one which he said could eventually lead to violence.

Herzog also addressed the Jewish diaspora community, many of whom have also expressed grave concerns about what the proposed reforms could do to the democratic society that Israel has enjoyed, as well as the necessary checks and balances.

The president said he believes that there is certainly a way forward, and that it will involve a better understanding of the laws, as Israel does not have its own constitution. Once the constitutional laws are established and have gained wide acceptance by Knesset members, including passing through four readings to officially be accepted as law, the court system will no longer be able to overturn such laws.

Apart from the laws that the court system will be permitted to critique or change, there must be a conensus on the framework of how that authority is utilized. The Knesset will only be able to cancel a court's decision on the basis of a wide Knesset agreement. Furthermore, the court must submit a proposal concerning how to facilitate a more effective judicial system – one which is backed up and overburdened to the point of malfunctioning – something which has hurt the Israeli public and delayed the administering of justice, sometimes for years.

Herzog requested that no reforms, at this point, undergo a first reading, until there is wide agreement on how to proceed and put an end to this impasse. It must be done for the sake of the people of Israel, who must be placed above all this conflict," Herzog added. "We must all seek to come to an agreement and enter into negotiations," which, he said, he is willing to broker.

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

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