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February 15, 2023 10:23 am

Israeli Government Postpones Vote on Key Planks of Judicial Overhaul

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Photo: Government Press Office.

i24 News – Israel’s President Isaac Herzog held a series of meetings Tuesday night at his residence with opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz as well as the head of the Israeli parliament’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Simcha Rothman.

The goal of the meetings was to increase the pressure on the parties to push them to reach a compromise on the proposed judicial reform that sparked mass protests across Israel. As legislation moves through the Knesset and party leaders struggle to agree on where and when to hold the talks, Herzog reiterated his call for as broad agreements as possible to be reached for the benefit of the state of Israel and its citizens.

In a sign of possible breakthrough, the coalition subsequently pushed back to an unknown later date planned plenum votes on certain key planks of the judicial overhaul. Those include the so-called “Deri Law,” whose purpose is to allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reinstate the controversial Shas member as government minister; the High Court ruled last month that such appointment was defined by “extreme unreasonableness,” in view of Aryeh Deri’s previous conviction for tax evasion, even if there was no law that directly barred him from serving. Netanyahu was forced to fire Deri, but criticized judges for overruling the will of voters.

At the end of the meeting, Rothman called on Gantz and Lapid to “start talks without preconditions until the first reading of the law in the Knesset, in order to try to reach a broad agreement.” For his part, Gantz said he hoped that the president’s initiative would find a response and that Netanyahu would act responsibly in order “to prevent the division of the nation in the context of security and political challenges.”

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Earlier on Tuesday, Rothman and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich presented on Facebook a compromise approach to reach agreements with the opposition.

“We really want to establish a dialogue with the will to find agreements. We are ready to give up certain things,” they said.

Later, Rothman confirmed that he would accept compromises, while stressing that in return for his flexibility, he expected the opposition to support the bill in the next Knesset vote. Earlier on Sunday, Herzog in his national address proposed a five-point plan to kickstart a dialogue on the judicial overhaul. He also urged the protesters to hold a dialogue on the proposed reform package.

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