Opposition MK Benny Gantz (National Unity party) was the first opposition member to break ranks today, after he announced that he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and asked them to not open the Knesset plenum for discussion and legislation until things calms down, and they’ll go together tonight to speak to President Isaac Herzog. Gantz said, “History won’t forgive whoever didn’t try to stop a civil war.”
Gantz’s party subsequently clarified that Gantz meant he would only talk if the coalition stopped the legislation completely, according to reporter Amit Segal.
שוחחתי עם רה״מ נתניהו ויו״ר הכנסת אוחנה וקראתי להם לסגור מיידית את הכנסת – לעצור את כל הדיונים והחקיקה ולהגיע עוד הלילה לבית הנשיא.
מלחמת אחים בפתח – מתי נעצור? כשיישפך דם?
יש לנו הזדמנות לעצב בהסכמה את חייה החוקתיים של המדינה.
— בני גנץ – Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) March 1, 2023
Netanyahu has been calling for anyone in the opposition to simply agree to talk with the coalition about the judicial reform bill and reach a compromise, but until now, his calls have been met by deaf ears, or unrealistic demands and preconditions to stop legislation for 2 months. Netanyahu invited Gantz to meet with him at the Prime Minister’s office. Netanyahu responding to Gantz said, “My door is open, come right now.”
This morning, the Knesset Constitution Law and Justice committee chairman Simcha Rothman said he would hold off any progress on the judicial reform bill for a week to create an opportunity for the opposition to agree to talk. But no one took him up on the offer.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin and MK Rothman also responded to Gantz and invited him to sit and talk without any preconditions. Gantz responded that things may end in blood, and they should stop and then he’ll talk, and that is the formula.
The most vocal leader against talking with the coalition and discussing judicial reform is from opposition leader Yair Lapid. There’s a lot of bad blood between Lapid and Gantz, so it makes sense that Gantz would be the one to take the first step down from the ladder that Lapid dragged them all of them up on.
Labor chairwoman Meirav Michaeli strongly criticized Gantz for agreeing to hold talks on the judicial reform and for granting legitimizing Netanyahu.
This morning, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party voted with the coalition on the Death Penalty legislation. Another break in opposition unity.
Most members of the opposition, including Yair Lapid, have said over the years that Israel needs judicial reform.
There is almost no question that the coalition would be willing to give up on the Override clause of the reform bill, but to do so, they still need to negotiate with the opposition over the reform.