Israel’s National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz on Tuesday dismissed as “spin” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for compromise talks regarding the government’s judicial reform plan.
The former defense minister and leading opposition figure made the statement minutes after Netanyahu published a video message urging Gantz to “put aside all the prerequisites, all the obstacles, enter the room and talk.”
Saying that the Israeli government had been “captured by extremists,” Gantz called for Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset and head to a new round of elections “that will allow the fusion of Israeli society.”
Gantz also touched upon reports that Israeli President Isaac Herzog has been holding indirect talks in recent weeks between the coalition and opposition on a judicial reform compromise, and that a framework agreement had been reached. (Both the coalition and opposition leadership have rejected the claim.)
“As you know, the president—who has made great effort to avoid a big crisis—has reached out to me and presented to me the compromise that Netanyahu agreed to,” said Gantz.
“From the beginning I told the president that I have trouble seeing the coalition agreeing to this, but that we must try [to reach an agreement]. The compromise that was presented to me, which was also published in the media, isn’t my dream compromise. But we were ready to talk about it in order to stop the judicial coup and the damage to the State of Israel,” he said.
He then referred to the public rejections of the proposal, saying that “the barn-burners didn’t lay down their torches. Yesterday it was proven that the State of Israel has been abducted by radicals, while the moderates within the coalition are silent.”
Netanyahu in his videotaped message invited Gantz and his team to sit down with his team on Wednesday morning and “do what most of the people of Israel expect: […] sit down and reach agreements.”
The video message was published shortly after Netanyahu met with Justice Minister Yariv Levin about Herzog’s most recent judicial compromise effort.
In an interview with Kol BaRama radio earlier on Tuesday, Levin said, “It is impossible to agree to the compromise proposal,” emphasizing that Netanyahu backed his position.
“There is no change in the prime minister regarding the reform, despite all the publications,” said Levin, referring to a Channel 12 report that Netanyahu had largely agreed to the framework of an agreement.