MADRID, 15 Jan. (.) –
The President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, announced this Sunday that he has been working for several days to mediate between the country’s main political figures in relation to the controversial judicial reform presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The changes proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin could give the government control of the judicial selection committee, limit the authority of legal advisers and, above all, reduce the ability of the Supreme Court to revoke certain laws passed in Parliament.
Netanyahu and Levin’s proposal was received furiously by both the opposition and the Supreme Court itself, whose chief magistrate, Esther Hayut, went so far as to describe the initiative as a “mortal blow” to Israeli democracy.
“We are facing a profound disagreement that is splitting our nation in two. This conflict worries me deeply, just as it worries many in Israel and in the diaspora,” Herzog said on Sunday.
“In the last week I have been working full time and with all the media, making relentless efforts with the relevant parties with the aim of generating a broad, conscientious and respectful debate that I hope will give results,” he explained.
Herzog has stressed that it has “two critical functions”: “to avoid a historic constitutional crisis and to end the division in our nation.” To this end, he points out that “the Presidency is perhaps the only place that has the confidence of all parties” to host talks.
In any case, the Israeli president has warned that he is not “sure” of the success of the mediation initiative. “There is good will by the parties that have responsibilities, but there is still a long way to go and there are important differences,” he explained.
On Saturday, some 80,000 people took part in a large demonstration in Tel Aviv and outside Herzog’s official residence to protest against judicial reform. The final statement of the protest openly quoted the president, who was booed by the crowd.
However, the Israeli prime minister has justified the legitimacy of the judicial reform proposal with the “millions of people who took to the streets to vote” for his coalition parties in the last elections.
“We are going to finish the (judicial) reform law so that it corrects what must be corrected, protecting individual rights and restoring confidence in a judicial system that so badly needs reform,” he said, according to ‘The Times of Israel’.
Netanyahu has raised the need for “a deep and serious dialogue” instead of “getting carried away with incendiary slogans about a civil war or the destruction of the state.”