Edelstein: ‘Didn’t miss earlier overhaul votes by chance, hope common sense prevails’
Likud Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that his absence from key votes on the coalition’s sweeping plan to transfer power from the judiciary to politicians was no accident, and also offered full-throated support for judicial reform efforts the government freeze.
Edelstein, a Likud stalwart who has shown rare, if halting, opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was approved by the party earlier this month for missing votes on the first reading of coalition bills to grant pre-trial immunity from court review of certain laws and making. it is more difficult to force a premier to recuse himself from his position.
“I wasn’t at the votes on the first reading, and it wasn’t by chance,” Edelstein said to Arm Raidió in his first interview since Defense Minister Yoav Gallant asked to stop the legislative process. “I hope everyone has a good understanding.”
At the time of the votes, Edelstein’s spokesman denied that he was motivated to oppose the bills, saying among other things, that the legislator was at a funeral during one of the votes.
A former minister and Knesset speaker who recently tried to challenge Netanyahu for the Likud leadership, Edelstein joined the fray shortly after the judicial reform votes were lifted in the early morning of March 13, presenting a separate bill that d he personally sponsored.
The maneuver suggested to the party’s MKs that the snub was deliberate and Likud sanctioned Edelstein by preventing him from submitting private member’s bills, adding items to the Knesset agenda, or “speaking in the name of the Likud party” for three Knesset working weeks. .
On Thursday, lawmakers passed the bill shielding the premier from certain ethics obligations in his law.
Edelstein, who chairs the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is one of the few lawmakers within the Likud to advise the government to slow the legislative push, but his influence in the party on the issue has limited his influence. .
On Saturday night, Gallant joined those who wanted to dilute the process in favor of reconciliation talks, a sign of cracks emerging over the issue within Netanyahu’s inner sanctum amid intense pressure from a growing protest movement in against the reform.
Edelstein was quick to praise Gallant, thanking him for “joining the path I’ve been leading for weeks.”
“Most people want and understand the need for changes in the judicial system, but this must be done with patience, dialogue and broad discourse to reach a broad consensus,” he said in a statement.
Speaking to Army Radio, Edelstein repeatedly insisted on dialogue with the opposition parties about the overhaul and said that the legislative blitz would be delayed, but he would not say completely whether he would support a vote on it, he would refrain, or if he would simply avoid the vote.
“I hope common sense will prevail,” he said and noted that ultra-Orthodox politicians would likely favor easing the legislative campaign, which has sparked massive street demonstrations.
“I am confident that the Haredi side understands the need to moderate things and compromise, I have heard that from the most senior officials in Haredi society and Haredi parties,” Edelstein said using a Hebrew term for the ultra-Orthodox . “There’s no way they’re going to do the right thing.”
Edelstein defended Gallant against a call for his dismissal that came from National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit coalition.
No one, he said, has finished their way with the party, and he continued “I have been hearing these unnecessary statements for two months, the Likud is the place where you can have more than one opinion always express.”
He criticized his party for implementing the plan, which presented radical reform as almost a fait accompli.
“We made some mistakes in how we presented the judicial reform. It’s not too late to rethink the path and do things by consensus,” Edelstein said.
Last week Economy Minister Nir Barkat said that while he supports the overhaul if the Supreme Court strikes down some of the proposed legislation, he will accept the ruling, contrary to Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is leading the overhaul and the government promised. the court will not listen.
Their comments came as the government pressed ahead with its legislative plans. Netanyahu said in a speech Thursday night that he would scale back parts of the shakeup in the future, but also said he would vote this week to pass the bill to put key Supreme Court appointments, including its presidency, directly under coalition control. It is not yet clear when the vote will take place, although Tuesday has been set as a likely target. The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee convened on Sunday morning to continue the process of preparing and approving the bill for the Knesset’s second and third (final) reading.
Reformers have drawn a line in the sand on that bill, saying it will politicize the court, remove key checks on government power and seriously damage Israel’s democratic character. In response, protest leaders on Friday announced an unprecedented nationwide “week of paralysis” to disrupt daily life, including massive protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The reform has faced growing outrage and protests from top public figures including the president, lawmakers, business leaders, Nobel-winning economists, prominent security officials, and many others. . This week the Ministry of Finance’s top officials warned of deep and lasting damage to the economy if the changes go ahead in their current form.