Likud sources told Maariv that Justice Minister Yariv Levin is in no way ready to accept an opposition representative on the committee to appoint judges, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying repeatedly in conversations with his associates that “the election of the two coalition representatives will endanger the existence of the government and a compromise must be reached.”
Recently, Levin and Netanyahu have disagreed on another matter, having to do with the appointment of the head of Likud’s municipal elections committee. Normally, once the party chairman approves an appointment, his word is final. But Levin is insisting on placing his own man at the head of the committee. Mind you, the municipal elections are due in October, and having access to the head of the committee means power.
The same Likud sources told Maariv that “Netanyahu has never been in such a situation. To demand that the chairman of the movement change his decision after he has already announced the composition of the municipal committee? If Netanyahu gives in to this pressure, it would project severe weakness and damage his position in Likud and the coalition.”
As to Levin’s recurring threat of resignation, the Likud officials say there has recently been a change in attitude in Netanyahu’s circle. If until now the prime minister’s close circle emphasized that Levin should not be allowed to resign, recently they have been saying that “If Levin wants to resign, let him do so. Let him get up and go.”
But a different senior Likud official told Maariv: “Netanyahu will not go to war on two fronts. It is estimated that despite the worsening of the tones, if a compromise is not reached with the opposition by June 16, a compromise will be reached with Levin and Netanyahu will appoint two representatives of the coalition.”
This view is supported by the fact that Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri has added MK Uriel Busso to the list of candidates for the committee to appoint judges, in case there’s a need for a second coalition representative on the committee, alongside an Otzma Yehudit MK.
Coalition Chairman Ofir Katz told Ynet Radio on Thursday: “Netanyahu showed responsibility in light of what happened, and we went to talks. If we fail to reach an agreement and the opposition causes a blowout, which in my personal assessment is what will happen, we will continue with the reform as we promised our voters.”
Another bone of contention between Levin and others in the coalition, most notably Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, is the fact that the justice minister has been delaying his approval for a committee to investigate the Pegasus affair after an agreement was reached by the coalition on launching it. As long as the committee isn’t convened and issues its conclusions, the software remains frozen and the police are not allowed to use it. Some in Likud have suggested that Levin is using his signing off on investigating Pegasus as leverage to enforce his position on the judicial reform.