Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday appealed to politicians and the general public to tone down the rhetoric amid threats that the government’s judicial reform proposal will ignite a “civil war.”
“The values of the  Declaration of Independence are the compass of our country—I will not let anyone harm them. This is a sensitive and explosive time in the public sphere. I am aware of the voices from both sides, of all the pain, worries and anxieties. I do not ignore this and it is on my mind constantly,” Herzog wrote in a lengthy post on Twitter.
“During recent days, I have held discussions with many parties and I am doing everything in order to create a respectful atmosphere and dialogue, in the hopes of reaching a broad understanding. I appeal to you, elected officials and citizens of Israel from the entire public and political spectrum: Show restraint and responsibility. We must calm the spirits and lower the flames.
“We have no other country,” Herzog wrote.
Earlier Tuesday, Oztma Yehudit lawmaker Zvika Fogel accused opposition leader Yair Lapid and three others of “treason” for what he views as fomenting a civil war.
In an interview with the Kan public broadcaster, Fogel defined Lapid, National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and former Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan as the “most dangerous” people in Israel.
“These four are talking about war. If they were calling to protest I’d give them every right to protest. But they’re talking in terms of me being an enemy. As far as I’m concerned, it’s treason against the state,” said Fogel.
Lapid on Monday called the government’s proposed judicial reforms an “extreme regime change” and vowed to continue fighting in streets across the country in “a war over our home.”
His comments were echoed by Gantz, who said: “If you [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] continue the way you are going, the responsibility for the civil war that is brewing in Israeli society will be on you.
In response, Netanyahu accused his political opponents of “planting the seeds of disaster” by encouraging a rebellion against a democratically-elected government.
Netanyahu on Sunday rejected as “baseless” claims by critics that his government’s proposed judicial reforms would mark the end of the country’s democracy, and vowed to implement the plan “responsibly.”
“The truth is that the balance between the branches of government has been violated over the past two decades,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “This unusual phenomenon does not exist anywhere else in the world—not in the United States, not in Western Europe and not during Israel’s first 50 years of existence.”
The attempt to restore the “correct balance” between the branches of government “is not the destruction of democracy, but the strengthening of democracy,” he said.