Israeli President Isaac Herzog led negotiations on Sunday evening to reach a compromise on the judicial reform project. These negotiations come hours before a crucial Knesset vote after which a large part of the project could be adopted.
Is an arrangement still possible in Israel? On the eve of a crucial vote in parliament on a controversial judicial reform bill, on the evening of Sunday July 23, Israeli President Isaac Herzog conducted last-minute negotiations to reach a compromise between the opposition and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the government, the reform aims in particular to rebalance the powers, by reducing the prerogatives of the Supreme Court, which the executive considers politicized, in favor of Parliament. Its detractors believe that it risks opening the way to an anti-liberal or authoritarian drift.
The Israeli president, returning from a visit to the United States, immediately went to the hospital to meet Benjamin Netanyahu who underwent surgery on Sunday to have a pacemaker implanted.
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“This is an emergency situation. An agreement must be reached,” Isaac Herzog said in a statement released by his office.
Isaac Herzog then met with opposition leader Yair Lapid and was also due to meet former defense minister Benny Gantz, another opposition figure. The president’s office did not provide details of the content of the talks.
Despite his operation, Benjamin Netanyahu pledged earlier to be present during the vote on Monday. “As you can see, I’m doing very well,” Benjamin Netanyahu said, wearing a jacket and white shirt with an unbuttoned collar, according to a video released by his office. “We are continuing our efforts to complete the reform (…) and the efforts to do so in agreement (with the opposition),” he continued. “Tomorrow (Monday) morning I will join my friends in Parliament.”
A crucial vote expected on Monday
The protest intensified in the days leading up to the debate, which began on Sunday, ahead of a vote in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) on Monday, after which much of the bill could pass.
“We want to continue to live in a Jewish and democratic state,” said Yair Lapid at the start of the debate in Parliament. “We will not give up the future of our children,” he added, asking to “stop the legislation” on this reform.
Debate on the controversial bill is expected to last for hours, until Monday morning, and more than 20 lawmakers are expected to speak against the bill, according to a list provided by parliament. The final vote on Monday will be on the “reasonableness” clause in government decisions, which allows judges to overrule government decisions.
Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz called for dialogue on Sunday, saying “we can reach an agreement but we have to stop” the legislation on this measure.
Demonstrations in Jerusalem
Approved at first reading on the night of July 10 to 11, the “reasonableness” clause forced Benjamin Netanyahu in January to dismiss government number two, Arie Dery, convicted of tax evasion, following the intervention of the Supreme Court.
Other measures provoke the dissatisfaction of the demonstrators, such as that modifying the process of appointment of judges, already adopted by the deputies at first reading.
“We have no Constitution and while the Supreme Court is the only one to protect our rights, this government is trying to destroy it,” protester Shanna Orlik told AFP.
Again on Sunday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Jerusalem to protest against the reform project, while demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv, in support of the government.
“We have to continue the pressure, we have to save our democracy,” Amir Goldstein, who spent the night outside parliament, told AFP.
Source: France 24