Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday morning addressed the rising political tensions in the country following protests against the legislative agenda of the new coalition, particularly regarding controversial judicial reforms.
He acknowledged the debate and the demonstrations around the country, which included a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night of about 80,000 people protesting plans to overhaul the justice system.
In an address at the President’s residence, Herzog said, “We are in the grips of a profound disagreement that is tearing our nation apart. This conflict worries me deeply, as it worries many across Israel and the diaspora.”
The president called on both politicians and regular citizens to show restraint and responsibility, saying, “We must calm the spirits and lower the flames.”
Herzog revealed that he has been in regular meetings with various groups involved in the dispute, which he called a “rift within our nation.”
WATCH: Israel's President @Isaac_Herzog speaks out the morning after an 80,000-strong protest in Tel Aviv, saying he is working to avoid a 'historic constitutional crisis and stopping the continued rift within our nation' pic.twitter.com/2NSjEXxGBW— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) January 15, 2023
The president’s statements come at time when most Israelis have a very low level of trust in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Data from the Israeli Democracy Index for 2022, which was collected in October, shows that only 18% of Israelis trust the Knesset.
The report showed a significant decline in trust in public institutions over the last decade, with only 33% of those polled expressing trust in those institutions, compared to 63% in 2012. The report showed that only the military and the Office of the President had broad support from the public.
Herzog acknowledged this in his speech, saying, “The Office of the President is perhaps the only place today that enjoys the confidence of all parties and is capable of hosting discussions on the subject in a manner accepted by all.”
He promised to “continue working with all my might.”
He also praised the “strong and diverse state and society,” saying that Israel has “overcome many challenges before.”
Finally, he expressed hope that the opposing parties “will be able to find the right way to emerge from this difficult crisis.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.