Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t be more clear about who were the good guys in Israel’s struggle over the judicial reform, and who were not. He opened his speech to the nation Monday night with a reference to the two women who came to King Solomon, each claiming she was the mother of the same baby. Netanyahu reminded his listeners that the wisest king took out a sword and offered to cut the baby in half.
The PM didn’t complete the parable but instead explained that both halves of the nation who are fighting for and against the judicial reform love their country. He then went on to condemn what he called an extremist minority who are not concerned with the wellbeing of the country.
But Netanyahu didn’t complete the message of Solomon’s trial: in the biblical story, one of the women agrees that the king cut the baby in two and give her one half. But the other woman refuses and tells the king that he should give the baby to the other woman rather than kill it. And that was, the king concluded, the baby’s real mother.
Speaking in the Knesset, Netanyahu was surrounded by many tens of thousands of right-wing demonstrators who showed up spontaneously, without professional organizers and funding from Israeli billionaires, Jewish American groups, and the US government. He shared how touched he was by the fact that the real mother of this baby, the Jewish State, the vast right-wing Jewish majority, had gathered to support the judicial reform.
Which is why the PM asked those right-wing supporters to allow for an attempt to communicate with the other side, revealing that National Camp Chairman MK Benny Gantz had agreed to enter negotiations immediately. To that end, Netanyahu declared that he was suspending the judicial reform for now, to allow for negotiations, in the hope of creating a wider agreement over compromise legislation, to be confirmed during the Knesset summer session.
“When there is an opportunity to prevent a war between brothers through negotiations, I, as prime minister, am taking time-out for negotiations. We insist on the need to bring the necessary amendments to the justice system and we will be given an opportunity to achieve them with broad support.”
“Either way, we will bring about a reform that will bring back the balance that was lost between the branches of government,” Netanyahu promised.
The PM was immediately “rewarded” by Benny Gantz, who declared: “The Prime Minister is the first person responsible for the rift in the nation.” But he also conceded: “We will immediately report to the president’s resident for talks with an open heart and a willing spirit.”
Coalition leaders told the media that Netanyahu is ready to pass the legislation in the summer, with or without opposition support, and this is why Constitution Committee Chairman MK Simcha Rothman passed the amended bill so that it is now ready for a plenum vote.
It is expected that the Histadrut trade union will end the national strike and Ben Gurion International Airport will come back to life tonight.
Anarchist leaders Ehud Barak and MK Meirav Michaeli made it clear they weren’t stopping their fight against the judicial reforms until they win.