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Likud Knesset member warns Netanyahu, ‘at least 5 fellow lawmakers support halting legislation’

Bitan says ‘no danger in waiting a little longer’, Reports about softening of judicial reform legislation are released

David Bitan, chairman of the Economic Committee leads a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Mar. 16, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud party Knesset Member David Bitan said on Saturday that at least five other Likud members are in favor of stopping the Israeli parliament’s ongoing judicial-reform legislation to allow for discussion and compromise.

Speaking with Israel's Channel 12 news, Bitan also issued a warning: “If the prophecies of economic rage come true, the Likud is finished with its career.” 

“There are five Knesset members in the Likud in favor of stopping the legislation,” he stated. 

Bitan reportedly revealed there was already agreement within the ruling coalition to soften some of the clauses that have triggered weekly protests throughout the country. The lawmaker said there is no danger in stopping the legislation in order to come to an agreement. 

“In my opinion, the legislation can be stopped for this simple reason – we have waited long enough, nothing will happen if we wait another two months,” Bitan said. 

That process of softening the legislation wording has already begun.

On Sunday, Knesset Member Simcha Rothman, head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, presented a new and significantly milder version of the “Judicial Selection Committee” bill, after receiving complaints from the opposition. 

The new version of the bill increases the number of individuals on the justice-selection committee from 9 members to 11. The committee would include five Knesset members: one, the chair of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee; two other coalition members and two opposition members. The members of the Knesset will be required to come from different parties, whether they are in the coalition or in the opposition. 

Justice Minister Yariv Levin said that the ruling coalition’s focus would be on passing the judicial selection bill and that “what we don’t manage [in] this session will be postponed to the next session.” 

Other Likud party members have spoken in favor of softening the reforms or pausing the legislation for discussions. 

Likud Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein skipped a vote last week that effectively would strip the Supreme Court of Israel of its power to suspend a sitting prime minister. Although Likud disciplined Edelstein for skipping the vote, he has continued to call for dialogue about the reforms. 

Likud member Amichai Chikli, who serves as Israel’s diaspora affairs minister, told the Israel Defense Forces army radio on Sunday that the coalition would soften the reform unilaterally. 

Knesset Member Danny Danon of the Likud party also called for softening the reforms. 

Coalition heads said the opposition should “take advantage of the month-long recess period, during which the legislative procedures in the Knesset cannot be held, to hold real negotiations to reach an understanding regarding the articles of legislation that will be submitted for approval after the recess.” 

Bitan has noted that the coalition would unilaterally modify its reforms “if there’s no negotiating partner.” 

Last week, he criticized Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s compromise proposal, saying that it was riddled with issues that not even the opposition agreed upon and that the president’s proposal “killed the chance of compromise.”

This Sunday, Bitan called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene. 

“I think it’s time for Netanyahu to intervene – it’s his job as prime minister – and order a halt to the legislation,” Bitan said.  

However, Bitan said he doesn’t expect Netanyahu to step in. 

“Netanyahu is not stopping the legislation because he does not want the government to fall,” Bitan suggested. 

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

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