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Some Likud members fear judicial reform referendum could lead to downfall of coalition

Polls released over the weekend show weaker coalition standing

Anti-overhaul activists protest the government's judicial reforms, in Tel Aviv, August 12, 2023. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Following a recent proposal for the Israeli government to hold a public referendum on its judicial reforms, the Likud party indicated that it is opposed to the idea, fearing that such a move could lead to the dissolution of the current government coalition.

Likud party members reportedly discussed the possibility of a public referendum during a meeting on Sunday, an idea that was birthed following the results of a survey conducted by the Center for the Advancement of Fairness in Israel.

In the survey, 63% of respondents said the government should stop all judicial reform legislation and have a public referendum, to be carried out by an independent body.

Likud members said that “elections are the surest path to collective suicide of the right-wing camp,” according to Israel's Maariv news outlet.

The party discussion came after recent polls showed the right-wing coalition at an electoral low if Israelis were about to vote in the next election.

“Today, when the right-wing camp is at its lowest, the polls are the strongest glue of the incumbent coalition,” a member of Likud told Maariv.

Party members also stated that the judicial reforms should be “put aside," with a focus on “rehabilitating the status of this government.”

The coalition is believed to be turning its attention to the Draft Law, which is also seen as controversial by the broader Israeli society.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin is expected to convene a committee to discuss the law next week.

Likud sources told Maariv they are attempting to convince the ultra-Orthodox coalition members that “an unrealistic version of the Draft Law will lead to elections against our will.”

In that case, the sources claimed, the ultra-Orthodox could find themselves in the opposition, without any means to advance the law.

The sources also say they warned the ultra-Orthodox parties that the opposition is hoping to use 'debate' over the Draft Law to bring about the collapse of the government.

“If there are elections in the near future on the issue of Haredi recruitment, the opposition will not need the Joint List or the Haredim to form a government,” the sources said.

A poll conducted by Lazar Studies, in cooperation with Maariv, showed the Likud with 27 mandates behind the National Unity party, led by opposition member and former IDF chief Benny Gantz, which received 30 mandates.

The poll showed the opposition parties holding 66 mandates compared to the coalition only receiving 54.

The coalition currently holds 64 votes in the Knesset, so the poll predicts a stronger position for the opposition parties than enjoyed by the current government.

Opposition leader and Yesh Atid party chair Yair Lapid responded to the results, saying that he “needed to improve” saying the problem is “in the message we explain to the public.”

Yesh Atid has consistently polled poorly over the last few months, while Gantz's National Unity party has typically maintained or increased its standing.

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

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