Herzog phones PM, Gantz, Lapid to launch talks on compromise after overhaul paused


President Isaac Herzog held phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, urging them to start an “immediate negotiation process” under the auspices of his office to reach a compromise agreement on judicial reform, after the premier agreed. to temporarily stop the coalition government’s attempt to radically limit the power of the Supreme Court on Monday night.

The president asked that each side establish negotiating teams so talks could begin, Herzog’s office said. Gantz quickly heeded the call, announcing that he had enlisted MK Gideon Sa’ar, MK Chili Tropper, MK Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and a lawyer, Ronen Aviani, who was leading the talks on behalf of his party. National Unity.

This is the second time Herzog will be overseeing judicial reform negotiations in recent weeks. The first round failed to bear fruit, as the coalition refused to stop its legislation to reform the judiciary while it was underway and later rejected the proposal Herzog revealed earlier this month. There were no formal representatives from either side in the first round either, and instead the president relied heavily on a team of academic experts who consulted with coalition and opposition conduits.

Gantz called Netanyahu after his speech announcing the temporary suspension of the coalition’s legislative effort to reform the judiciary, praising the prime minister for his decision and expressing his willingness to engage in good-natured negotiations to reach compromise.

Netanyahu gave a shout-out to Gantz during his keynote address on Monday, saying he had read the letter the National Unity chairman had written to coalition members a day earlier in which he urged them to halt his legislation so negotiations could take place towards reconciliation. there will be broad public buy-in.

Polls released earlier today showed the pragmatic, centrist Gantz gaining significant public support at the expense of Netanyahu’s Likud.

Yair Lapid (C), Benny Gantz (C) and Benjamin Netanyahu (R) (Flash90)

Also during their call, Gantz urged Netanyahu to reconsider the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who asked on Saturday to suspend the judicial reform and reach a compromise, warning that the societal fragmentation that has arisen from the military’s operational capability has an impact. Netanyahu later announced that he had settled Gallant, a move that sparked colorful, spontaneous demonstrations across the country.

After massive public pressure which has seen 12 weeks of massive demonstrations, and, on Monday, general strikes announced by the country’s main trade union and local councils, the prime minister said on Monday evening that he was allowing “delay” to supply. “real opportunities for real dialogue,” but he emphasized that “either way,” an amendment would be put forward to “restore the balance” he said had been lost between the branches of government in Israel.

While declaring that he wanted to divide the nation, Netanyahu targeted elements of the protest movement as violent “extremists” who wanted to tear the nation apart and insisted that supporters of a religious government be treated the right wing as second class citizens.

It was unclear Monday night whether Netanyahu intended to terminate the removal of Gallant, who has not yet been served with a letter of dismissal. Netanyahu made no reference to Gallant in his speech.

Gantz welcomed the legislative break in his own video statement after Netanyahu’s speech, saying he would enter into negotiations at the Presidential Residence “with an open heart, not to win, but to unite.”

Gantz promised to listen to the concerns of the reformers and said that it aimed to “enhance governance and checks and balances,” and that he would not compromise on democratic foundations and a comprehensive, quasi-constitutional Basic Law to be laid down authorities and clear limits on legislation and legislation. the ability to achieve it.

The leader of the United National Party MK Benny Gantz speaks to the media at the Knesset, on March 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He addressed the supporters of the legislation: “You are my brothers. I intend to act as a leader that everyone can see. We didn’t have to reach this moment. I oppose this government and will continue to do so, but when it comes to national security it will wholeheartedly support all the right measures.

In his response address shortly afterwards, Lapid expressed doubts about Netanyahu’s delay in loyalty, saying that the dialogue for a reform agreement must end with a constitution.

“If the legislation really, truly and completely ends, we are ready to start a real dialogue at the President’s Mansion,” said Lapid.

“We must sit together and write a constitution for Israel based on the values ​​of the Declaration of Independence. We have to let the president decide the mechanism for the dialogue and trust him to be a fair mediator.”

“We had a bad experience [with Netanyahu] in the past and so first, let’s make sure there are no tricks or bluffing here. We heard with concern yesterday the reports that Netanyahu told those close to him that he is not really stopping, just trying to defuse the situation,” Lapid added.

“If he makes any effort, he will find hundreds of thousands of patriotic Israelis who are committed to fighting for our democracy standing up, committed to being the bulwark that protects the country and its democracy.

“On the other hand, if the government engages in a real and fair dialogue we can come out of this moment of crisis – stronger and more united.”

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