President Herzog’s Outline for Judicial Reform Rejected by Coalition, Praised by Opposition

By Hamodia Staff

Israel’s President Yitzchak Herzog. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

President Yitzhak Herzog of Israel released his compromise outline for legal reform on Wednesday evening and at the same time addressed the country about what he included in his outline.

Herzog’s outline included many ideas concerning how to bridge the gap between the legal reforms being proposed by coalition and the opposition who have taken to the streets to protest the laws being suggested in the Knesset.

The president began his remarks by saying, “The last few weeks are tearing us apart — harming the economy, security and especially Israeli cohesion. Shabbos meals have become an arena of struggle, friends and neighbors have become rivals, the conflicts are getting worse.”

Herzog said that he has held discussions with thousands of citizens over the past few weeks, and he praised these citizens “the best citizens of the country, true patriots from all sides of the dispute.” Nevertheless, he expressed his worries that he heard real alarming rhetoric from some.

“Some say, “Whoever thinks that a real civil war is a limit that we will not reach — he has no idea. In the 75th year of the state, terrorism is within touching distance. A civil war is a red line, I will not let it happen.” The IDF must be out of bounds. We are in the midst of a deep crisis and this is a major historical opportunity for a balanced and agreed upon constitutional regulation of the relations of the authorities in our Jewish and democratic country.”

As for changes in the judicial system, Herzog posited that changes are necessary in the relationship between the authorities, and that it is in the best interest of the citizens and the state.

“Complete and absolute agreement is not achievable, but a broad agreement on the issues is the right thing,” he said. “The outline reflects the greatest scope of agreement and common denominator. Not the ‘president’s outline’ — the ‘people’s outline’. If only one side wins, the state will lose. The entire outline is a victory for the state.

Although he stated that the place for legislative procedures is in the Knesset, he suggested that the outline he proposed should be the basis for new legislation to replace the existing proposal, and following a rigorous debate it will be decided in the Knesset.

The coalition’s reaction to the presidents address was swift, as Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the outline.

“Any attempt to reach an agreement is appropriate and therefore the representatives of the coalition have spoken with the president time and time again, but unfortunately the things the president presented were not agreed upon by the coalition and many sections of what he presented perpetuate the existing situation and do not restore the balance between the authorities. This the unfortunate truth.”

Minister Betzalel Smotrich said, “I have great respect for the president of the country, but an outline for changing the election results, which perpetuates the undemocratic rule of the jurists and accepts all the concessions from the opponents of the reform, cannot be a basis for compromise even if someone calls it by the washed-up name “the people’s outline”. The people had their say in the last elections and this must be the starting point of any discussion.”

Transport Minister Miri Regev decried the outline by speculating, “The president’s outline? [It is] the outline of the [High Court President]! It seems that the outline was written by the president (of the court) for the president of the country! The outline is an insult to the intelligence of the public. This is an outline that takes a clear side, against the people and the government. Honestly, I was expecting something more serious.”

Minister of Communications Dr. Shlomo Karai said, “The President’s outline places the High Court above the law – without a superseding clause, establishes an impossible and unfair arrangement in the Committee for the Selection of Judges, leaves intact the seniority mechanism for electing the Supreme Court President, sets a paradoxical and absurd threshold for the enactment and change of basic laws which on the one hand allows the High Court to invalidate laws based on the existing fundamental laws, on the other hand, it actually thwarts any decision of the people, and determines the annulment of laws by the High Court with a wave of the hand of 7 out of 11 judges.

“This is not the president’s outline. It is also not the outline of the people. Sounds more like an Aharon Barak outline!”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid congratulated to the president for his outline, repeating what Herzog said that Israel is being torn apart and action must be taken to prevent an economic, security and social disintegration.

“We must approach the president’s outline out of respect for the position, the seriousness with which it was written and the values that underlie it.”

He criticized the coalition for “extreme and predatory legislation” and said “the danger to Israeli democracy has not passed.”

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