Israeli President Isaac Herzog late Monday night phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Yair Lapid and National Unity Party chief Benny Gantz to urge them to start an immediate negotiation process under his auspices to reach a compromise on judicial reform.
The move came after Netanyahu announced in a national address that he was putting a hold on the government’s reform efforts in order to “provide a real opportunity for real dialogue.
“We are on the path toward a dangerous collision in Israeli society. We are in the midst of a crisis that endangers the basic unity between us. Such a crisis requires us all to act responsibly,” said the premier.
In response, Herzog said that “stopping the legislation is the right thing. This is the time to begin a sincere, serious, and responsible dialogue that will urgently calm the waters and lower the flames.
“I call on everyone to act responsibly. Protests and demonstrations, on whichever side—yes. Violence—absolutely not! If one side wins, the country will lose. We must remain one people and one country—Jewish and democratic,” added Herzog.
In the phone calls Monday, Herzog requested that each party form a negotiating team so that talks could begin.
Shortly thereafter, Gantz tapped MKs Gideon Sa’ar, Chili Tropper and Orit Farkash-Hacohen and attorney Ronen Aviani with leading the talks for the National Unity Party.
Lapid on Tuesday named Yesh Atid’s negotiators: MKs Orna Barbivai and Karin Elharrar, former Prime Minister’s Office director general Naama Schultz and attorney Oded Gazit.
The government’s team consists of Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs and Aviad Bakshi, head of legal affairs at the Kohelet Policy Forum.
On Monday evening, a massive demonstration in support of judicial reform took place in Jerusalem at the same time that Netanyahu announced a pause in the legislative process.
More than 100,000 people gathered in the capital, close to the Knesset and Supreme Court, police sources said, in a show of solidarity following months of left-wing-led protests against the coalition’s reform program.
Herzog earlier this month presented what he termed the “people’s plan,” referring to a compromise reform proposal that he developed. He subsequently held a series of talks with key figures in the judicial reform initiative that failed to produce results.