President Herzog calls for “immediate halt” to judicial reform in Israel

President Herzog calls for “immediate halt” to judicial reform in Israel

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog today urgently called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “act responsibly and courageously” and “immediately” halt the legislative process of the controversial judicial reform that is dividing the country.

“For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of the necessary responsibility, I ask you to stop the legislative process immediately,” Herzog said in a statement amid the largest protests in its history and on the brink of a general strike.

Netanyahu last night dismissed his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, after he publicly called for a halt to judicial reform, the first critical voice within the government, sparking massive impromptu demonstrations across the country, attended by more than 650,000 people, which are expected to be repeated today.

“Last night we witnessed very difficult scenes,” Herzog said of last night’s protests, in which demonstrators set bonfires to cut off traffic on Tel Aviv’s main highways or broke down fences protecting the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, where police used water cannons to disperse them.

The country’s main universities last night declared an indefinite strike and the country’s main labor union is expected to announce a general strike, while a group of 23 mayors intend to start a hunger strike today in protest against the reform, which has unleashed a broad social protest from multiple sectors.

“I appeal to the Prime Minister, members of the Government and the Coalition: there are hard and painful feelings. The whole nation is absorbed in deep concern. Our security, economy, society, all are under threat,” cried Herzog, who two weeks ago presented an alternative judicial reform proposal to please all parties, which was immediately rejected by the Executive.

The president, who has held numerous meetings with representatives of all sectors and politicians from all parties, warned then that the country was on the brink of a “civil war.”

“I call on the leaders of all factions in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), both coalition and opposition, to put the citizens above all else and act courageously and responsibly without further delay,” the president added.

“Wake up now! This is not a time for political games; it is a time for leadership and responsibility,” he urged.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant – a veteran of Netanyahu’s Likud party – was the first member of his government to express concern about the social impact of the reform, which he considered an “imminent danger to the country’s security,” after thousands of elite reservists refused to serve in the army in protest of the legislation.

Israel has seen thirteen consecutive weeks of protests since the new Netanyahu government announced in early January its judicial reform plan – only six days after taking office – which essentially seeks to undermine the independence of the judiciary and increase government control over it.

Among his controversial measures he includes the “annulment clause”, by which a parliamentary majority could reverse Supreme Court rulings; he also gives the government almost total control over the election of judges and allows politicians to occupy the posts of legal advisors to ministries.

Its detractors, therefore, see the reform as a threat to Israeli democracy by violating the separation of powers; while its defenders believe that the Israeli Supreme Court meddles too much in politics and that it is necessary to limit that power.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.For tips or news submission: