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Judicial reform proponents and opponents both express frustration and need for 'progress' in negotiations with no end in sight

“The moment of truth is coming" says Knesset member; 'fruitless discussions' are a 'waste of precious time'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Justice Minister Yariv Levin as he convenes a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, April 2, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool)

Israeli opposition lawmakers emphasized on Tuesday that a negotiated compromise is “the only possibility” for solving the current political and legal crisis in Israel.

Judicial reform talks have resumed between government and opposition representatives with President Isaac Herzog as mediator.

“We made it clear that continuing with talks is conditional upon the possibility of making progress,” stated the two largest opposition parties in Israel – National Unity and Yesh Atid.

While the opposition embraces continued negotiations with the Netanyahu government, they also demand that coalition lawmakers halt attempts to fundamentally alter Israel’s system of governance.

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the leading architect behind the government’s judicial overhaul, reportedly urged coalition lawmakers to implement changes “in such a way that it’s impossible to reverse them,” Israeli Channel 13 news reported.

In a released joined statement, Yesh Atid and National Unity demanded a “commitment to the process inside and outside the room, and on stopping the sword of the judicial coup with a clear commitment that there is no legislation that leads to a change of the regime in Israel.”

The Yesh Atid party leader, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and National Unity party leader, former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, also responded to fellow opposition voices who are demanding an end to the ongoing dialogue to reach a compromise.

“We are attentive to calls and know that the majority of the public prefers talking to leaving the room,” stressed the two main opposition parties.

Anti-government protest leaders claim the negotiations will not produce any judicial compromise and blasted Lapid and Gantz for continuing talks with Netanyahu’s government, which they accuse of acting in bad faith.

“Lapid and Gantz, Netanyahu does not want to and cannot reach a historic compromise that will strengthen democracy and ensure an independent judiciary.” 

“It’s hard not to wonder what Lapid and Gantz are thinking to themselves when all the senior government officials, led by Netanyahu, explicitly say that they intend to continue turning Israel into a dictatorship, and all that has changed is the method.”

Large anti-judicial reform protests entered their 21st week with no immediate end in sight to solve the deep political crisis currently plaguing Israeli society.

Meanwhile, Knesset Member Simcha Rothman, a key advocate of the government’s judicial reform, shared his skepticism about continuing  negotiations with the opposition parties.

“I do not intend to waste my precious time on fruitless discussions,” warned Rothman. “The talks at the President’s Residence are meaningless,” he added.

“The moment of truth is coming – whether it is related to the committee for selecting judges, the military conscription law or because it becomes clear to everyone that the protest has nothing to do with the reform,” he said.

Unlike most democracies, the Jewish state currently does not have a formal constitution. Instead, Israel is governed by principles stated in the country’s Basic Laws. Proponents of the judicial reform argue that it will strengthen Israeli democracy by limiting the power of the Supreme Court to strike down on the legislative branch. By contrast, critics argue that the judicial reforms will weaken Israeli democracy by undermining independent institutions such as a potent judiciary.

During his official visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned that the judicial reform crisis and internal divisions threatened the Jewish state’s long-term security. The president urged the government and opposition to find a compromise for the sake of the country’s future.

“The best thing for Israel is to reach a broad agreement, allowing us to rise out of the straits of this difficult period that threatens to destroy us from the inside,” warned Herzog.


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

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