Despite all signs to the contrary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed optimism on Sunday that the deep national divide over the government’s planned judicial reforms can be overcome “with good will on both sides.”
In his opening remarks to the government cabinet, Netanyahu acknowledged the debate that is still raging over the government’s planned judicial reforms, which include changes to the Israeli judicial system, including term limits for judges, increased transparency, and a more balanced representation of different political views on the bench.
“We are making every effort to resolve this debate through dialogue,” Netanyahu said. “With goodwill by both sides, I am convinced that it is possible to reach agreements – and I give this my full backing.”
Last Sunday, Netanyahu told CBS News that he “would not accept that Parliament should have the ability to override the decisions of the Supreme Court, just as he would not accept that the Court could overturn any decision of Parliament … Both extremes are an obstacle to the balance of power,” he said.
While asserting that there is a “broad consensus” in Israel on the need to “correct” the judicial system, Netanyahu noted in the interview that “there are very different views on how to do it. “This is an internal issue that we must resolve, and we do so by seeking consensus,” he said, noting that negotiating teams for the government and the opposition are continuing talks over the issue at the president’s residence.
“You do not turn away from a problem – you try to solve it,” he told CBS News.
Negotiations on the judicial reforms are set to resume this Tuesday at the President’s Residence. However, according to the Likud party, the opposition Yesh Atid party led by MK Yair Lapid is “doing everything to prevent agreement in the talks,” KAN News 11 reported.
Senior Likud officials said Yesh Atid representatives have demanded to include unrelated issues in the negotiations, such as a debate over the Draft Law and the issue of haredi recruitment to the IDF. The officials warned that a compromise will only be possible if the talks are held solely with the National Unity party led by former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and without Yesh Atid.
In response, the Yesh Atid party claimed the Likud is attempting a “divide and conquer” strategy in the talks.
“The Likud is trying to create a conflict between the opposition parties but spreading lies will not lead the talks in the President’s Residence anywhere,” the statement said. “There is complete agreement between us and the National Unity party on the main issue in the dispute: not to allow the coalition to choose two judges on its behalf through the Judicial Selection Committee.”
With the start of the Knesset summer session set to begin Monday in Jerusalem, the prime minister also said in his remarks on Sunday that the state budget will be approved by Israeli lawmakers after a green light by the government and would “lead to economic stability.”
Part of that process, he explained, would come as competition is expanded, and international retail chains are brought into the country “to lower prices.”
The prime minister noted the cabinet was also poised to approve establishment of the country’s new national guard and said the new budget will provide “billions of shekels to add thousands of police officers, all to restore the personal security for every Israeli citizen, including in the Arab sector.”
The budget will be presented together with the Arrangements Law, he added.