Last Thursday night, former Labor Chairman and currently the President of Israel Itzhak Herzog broke all the rules in an attempt to appropriate powers to which he is not entitled. Herzog took to the airwaves without first consulting the prime minister, and was unabashed about taking sides in the political struggle between the coalition, with 64 Knesset mandates, and the Opposition’s 46 Jewish MKs (the Arabs have been staying out of the debate and did not participate in the protest demonstrations after being told they could not wave their Palestinian flags because, you know, bad optics).
The president told the nation (President Joins Opposition Parties, Leftist Mobs, in Attacking Majority’s Judicial Reform): “The entire legislation currently being discussed in committee must be removed from this world quickly. It is wrong, it is predatory, and it undermines our democratic foundations. Therefore, it must be replaced with another, agreed-upon outline, immediately.”
On Sunday morning, Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman told his committee members: “We have been sitting here for over two months to prepare the bills. According to the polls, the absolute majority of the people understand that there is a need for reform in the judicial system. Many also say unequivocally that it is important and good that the reform be achieved by broad agreement, and I am among them, and despite this, in these two months and all the long meetings outside of the working hours in the committee, we are facing people who are not ready to speak and it is very difficult.”
Rothman stated: “I strongly disagreed with the president’s words, but I am attentive to him and will also come to meet with the president today. We are not closing the door, no matter how many are working and speaking against us. In negotiations, it’s possible to reach an agreed solution if people decide that they have the best interest of the country and don’t want to burn it down.”
Rothman’s committee on Sunday debated the preparation of two amendments to the Basic Law: The Judiciary for a second and third plenum vote. Clearly, if President Herzog thought he could intimidate the committee chairman, he was about as wrong as he was in 2015 when he was sure his Labor party was going to defeat Likud and yelled out repeatedly in his high-registered voice: “Mahapach,” meaning coup. The video I found also includes a burning putdown by the Gashash…
The two amendments give the coalition control over the committee to appoint judges and bar the High Court from annulling basic laws. The debate in committee is scheduled to continue through Wednesday, and the Knesset plenum should be able to turn them into the law of the land either this week or next.
Rothman clarified on behalf of all the coalition members: “I say that our hand is still extended. What’s coming up now for a second and third vote are bills that deal with relatively trivial matters such as that the court cannot invalidate fundamental laws, which has been the Knesset’s position of the Knesset over the years, and end the reality of committee judges appointing their friends, and the judge’s veto, which opposition members have criticized time and again.”
Rothman concluded: “The fact that during this entire period, not a single operative proposal was presented is very frustrating, but we will continue to act for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel, despite the flood of slanders and lies, we will continue to extend a hand.”