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Israeli President Herzog urges lawmakers to choose between ‘disaster or solution’ as the country reaches its point of no return

Herzog called the judicial reforms ‘wrong and predatory,’ revealed that he managed to bridge most of the gaps between the coalition and the opposition

Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivers a message to the nation, Mar. 9, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned on Thursday that Israel has reached a “point of no return,” following another ‘Day of Disruption’ across Israel. 

Herzog urged lawmakers from the coalition and the opposition to reach a broad agreement over the contested judicial reforms. 

“To the state’s leaders, the coalition and the government, I say this: We are at a point of no return. This is a make-or-break time – to choose an agreement and rise up to a profound constitutional moment that will carry us years and generations forward, or to deteriorate into a constitutional, security, social and economic abyss.”   

Herzog said elected representatives have one choice to make between a “disaster” or a “solution.” He warned, “If you continue to follow the road you have taken so far – the chaos is your hands. History will judge you. Take responsibility right now.” 

In a fierce live address to the nation delivered from Jerusalem, the president referred to the current overhaul plan advanced by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government as “wrong” and “predatory,” one that undermines Israel’s democratic foundations. He said the proposal must be “scrapped immediately” and replaced with a new outline accepted by both sides.  

Herzog revealed that he has been working “around the clock” over the past 10 weeks, holding discussions with “everyone” and doing everything in his power to “protect the Israeli society and the Israeli democracy.” 

The president said he was able to bridge the gaps between the sides “significantly” and to reach broad understandings on most issues in dispute.

“Don’t believe anyone who purports to speak for me. When there is a presidential outline – you will hear it from me, in only my voice,” Herzog said, referencing media reports that pretended to quote his draft roadmap.  

Herzog’s remarks followed another day of escalating anti-government rallies. Protesters blocked main roads, including a route leading to the Ben-Gurion International Airport and Ayalon Highway, the primary thoroughfare in Tel Aviv. Earlier in the day, rioters vandalized the offices of the right-wing Israeli think tank Kohelet Forum. 

“The visuals of this day are a state’s nightmare. Enough!” Herzog stressed. “I can no longer see our nation falling apart in front of my eyes. What’s happening here is a disaster.” 

The Israeli president went on to promise the citizens of Israel, “To be clear, I am not giving up. I will pay every price to find a solution, as long as it happens right now, because we don’t have time.”   

According to Israeli Kan 11 news, President Herzog did not inform the coalition and the opposition of his intention to speak directly to the nation. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who landed in Italy for a visit on Thursday, told reporters following Herzog’s speech: “We need to resolve the disputes by calming the atmosphere and reaching understandings and agreements. I welcome the president’s initiative to try to reach the broadest possible understanding, which will allow us to continue [to live] together as brothers and sisters.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said on social media: “The president’s speech pointed sharply and clearly to what the whole country already knows: The predatory, anti-democratic judicial outline must immediately pass from this world. The legislation must be halted, and we should go to the president for a deep, serious and acceptable discussion that will lead to an overhaul of the judiciary and separation of powers.”    

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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