Herzog Proposes Two-Week Timeout for Negotiations on Judiciary Overhaul

By Shmuel Smith

Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence in Yerushalayim. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

YERUSHALAYIM — President Isaac Herzog has formulated a plan to facilitate a compromise in the controversy currently raging over the government’s proposed judicial overhaul.

The plan calls for a suspension of legislative action on the matter for 14 days in order to allow time for coalition and opposition parties to negotiate a reform agenda that will be acceptable to both sides, according to Channel 12 News on Thursday evening.

News of the plan follows weeks of talks held by Herzog with the two sides in an effort to quell the increasingly rancorous debate and avert a potential constitutional crisis.

Sources close to the Minister of Justice Yariv Levin, the chief proponent of the reforms, told Channel 12 that they will not agree to a two-week freeze of legislative efforts.

“We are always ready for talks, but so far no one has truly taken up the challenge on the other side,” the sources said. Levin has stated repeatedly that once the bill is introduced in the Knesset, there will be a full and fair debate.

However, as Arutz Sheva observed on Thursday, a framework for negotiation might in the end be found acceptable, since it could benefit both sides: for the right, it could ensure that whatever is agreed would not be struck down by the High Court; for the left, it would mean significantly diluting the far-reaching proposals.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that he was “ready to hear counter-offers.”

Levin said that he would be willing to discuss a change in the number of MKs required to override a High Court ruling, but would not compromise on principle.

Herzog’s office said in a statement: “The President has been working for many weeks in an attempt to prevent a historic constitutional crisis and to curb the deepening of the nation’s divisions. The President’s Residence is currently used as a dialogue center that succeeds in preserving the trust of the parties as a protected shelter for discussions in the midst of the controversy while maintaining the discretion of the participants.

“As part of this, meetings have been held at the President’s Residence, including by the President, every day for the past few weeks – meetings with all sides of the political map, including research institutes and various organizations, with the aim of establishing a negotiation mechanism that will allow an exit from the crisis while adhering to the fundamental values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and while maintaining the unity of the people. The call that emerges and resonates from all the meetings and discussions is that there must be negotiations.”

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