Israeli President urges leaders to seize the opportunity to end the judicial crisis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rivals to find a compromise that would end the judicial crisis, just a week before a key court hearing.

Herzog said Monday he had been speaking to coalition and opposition leaders over the past few weeks to press again for sweeping deals that would avert a constitutional crisis and protect democracy after months of protests.

“There are moments in such a crisis when leadership needs to seize the rare opportunity to reach out and come to an agreement. It’s such a moment,” Herzog said in a speech. “Enough already. I appeal to those responsible to show responsibility.”

His appeal comes for the first time in Israel’s history before the Supreme Court, which on September 12 will convene its entire 15-member bench to hear an appeal against an amendment that limits its own powers and was passed by Netanyahu’s coalition in July.

Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious coalition launched a campaign to overhaul the country’s judicial system in January, sparking unprecedented protests, hurting the economy and raising concerns about Israel’s democratic health.

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Netanyahu has since said that some of the measures in the original plan have been scrapped and that he would seek a broad consensus on any new judicial reforms, which he says aim to restore balance between the branches of government.

His Likud party on Monday denied reports in Israeli media that Netanyahu had agreed to relax the July 24 law restricting some of the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the executive branch, freezing all further court laws for 18 months and amending them to abolish at the composition of the committee select judges.

Attorney General Yariv Levin, the driving force behind the judicial reform, dismissed the reports as “trial balloons” in an interview with Army Radio and said it would be wrong for the Supreme Court to intervene in judicial legislation.

The Supreme Court will this month hear a series of appeals from lawmakers and regulators challenging some of the government’s judicial actions.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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