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Likud, anti-reform protest leaders both reject Histadrut proposal

The labor federation is proposing an 18-month legislative freeze unless 62.5% of MKs favor the judicial changes.

Reform opponents march towards the Knesset after prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 23, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Reform opponents march towards the Knesset after prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 23, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party on Sunday rejected a judicial reform proposal put forward by the Histadrut labor federation.

Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar–David and Dubi Amitai, chairman of the presidium of the Israeli Business Sector, on Sunday laid out a proposal they had submitted to Netanyahu over the weekend.

It proposes freezing the legislative process for 18 months unless at least 75 members of Knesset (62.5% of the 120 lawmakers) favor the reforms. Since the government has a narrow majority of 64 lawmakers, reaching such a broad consensus would seem impossible.

The Histadrut is also proposing a softening of the “reasonableness bill” which is being debated in the Knesset plenum on Sunday and which could see a final vote on Monday or Tuesday. The bill has drawn thousands of demonstrators to Jerusalem as mass protests continued across the country on Saturday night for the 29th consecutive week.

Bar-David made it clear that he is not seeking another general strike right now similar to the one that paralyzed the country in March. 

“The proposal would completely neuter the amendment on the issue of reasonableness and requires total concession on all the other elements of the reform,” Likud said in a statement. “We are continuing to make every effort for a real compromise.”

Opposition leader and Yesh Atid Party Yair Lapid met with Bar-David on Sunday morning.

“It is our duty to make every effort to stop the madness and reach broad agreements. I welcome the efforts of the chairman of the Histadrut, the outline laid out by the Histadrut is a basis for a joint dialogue,” Lapid said after the meeting in Bar-David’s Tel Aviv office.

But the head of the Labor Party came out against the Histadrut proposal.

MK Merav Michaeli said in a statement that the proposal amounts to “a tremendous opening for corruption, politicization of the judicial system and increased risk of harm to human rights.”

Leaders of the protest movement against judicial reform also dismissed the Histadrut’s proposal. In a statement, the heads of the “Kaplan protests” reiterated their demand that judicial reform legislation be scrapped entirely.

“Compromises in which Israel ultimately turns into a dictatorship are even worse than a decision,” they said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who previously held meetings at his Jerusalem residence with the ruling coalition and the opposition in an attempt to hammer out an agreement, returned from his trip to the United States on Sunday.

Both now and during the trip, the head of state has been working “to fully explore negotiation efforts in order to reach an agreement between the sides,” a statement from Herzog’s office said.

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