Israeli President: I’m trying to avoid a historic constitutional crisis in the country


The Israeli President Isaac Herzog said he is focused on avoiding a historic constitutional crisis, after he was criticized for not joining efforts to block the government’s controversial proposals for legal and judicial reforms.

“I’m now focused on two critical roles for which I believe, I bear responsibility as president at this hour, averting a historic constitutional crisis and stopping the continuing division within our country,” Herzog said in a statement on Sunday.

“Over the past week, I have been working all the time, by all means, making unremitting efforts with the parties involved, with the goal of initiating a broad, informed, respectful dialogue and discussion that I hope will yield results,” Herzog added.

Tens of thousands demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday against a plan by the new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would limit the High Court of Justice’s power to overturn legislation.

The government’s plan would also give Parliament a majority in the committee that appoints judges.

Benjamin Netanyahu from his side, didn’t address Herzog’s proposal during televised remarks at his weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said that previous governments from across the political spectrum sought judicial reforms, but no one thought at the time to talk about the end of democracy.

He pledged to allow for an extensive discussion in a parliamentary review committee in which the opposition is represented.

A poll published Sunday by the Israel Democracy Institute indicated a decline in public confidence in the Supreme Court.

The poll revealed that 80% of left-wing Israelis, 62% of centrists, and only 29% of right-wingers trust the court.

It also found that most Israelis (55.6%) support the court having the power to annul laws passed by the Knesset if they contradict the principles of democracy.

Centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid rejected Netanyahu’s claim that judicial reforms reflect the views of the general electorate, but he also expressed his readiness for a reform that allows for change only with the approval of a large parliamentary majority.

While Netanyahu wants to give the 120-seat Knesset the power to override some Supreme Court rulings by a majority of 61 votes, Lapid proposes to raise the required number to 70 votes, including ten opposition deputies.

It’s worth noting that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition has 64 seats.

Netanyahu rejected, on Sunday, the demands of thousands of demonstrators who protested against amendments that his government intends to introduce in the judicial system, claiming that he had received a mandate from millions of voters that would allow him to implement the controversial reforms.

This came in Netanyahu’s tweet on Twitter, the day after mass demonstrations organized by the Israeli opposition in the city of Tel Aviv, in which about 100,000 Israelis participated, according to police estimates, in protest against the reforms that its opponents describe as a judicial coup.

“Two months ago, there was a huge demonstration in Israel, the mother of all demonstrations… Millions took to the streets to vote in the elections,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu’s government won the confidence of the Knesset on December 29, 2022, after parliamentary elections that took place in early November 2022, and it is described as “the most right-wing in the history of Israel”.

In his tweet, Netanyahu added: “One of the main issues they voted for is reform of the judicial system… We’ve received a mandate and we will implement it”.

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