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Likud says no to Lapid demand for 18-month freeze of judicial reform

"We invite him to enter into negotiations today so that we can all reach a broad agreement," Netanyahu's party said.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset, July 30, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset, July 30, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud will not agree to freeze all judicial reform legislation until 2025 as demanded by the head of the opposition, the party said on Sunday afternoon.

“The only possible solution and the only thing that will enable a return to dialogue is a legislation freeze,” opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party told lawmakers in the Knesset on Sunday.

Under Lapid’s proposal, the government could still pass judicial reform laws during the next 18 months, but only with a two-thirds majority. Netanyahu’s right-wing governing coalition has a majority of 64 out of 120 seats in parliament.

“As long as there is no legislative freeze, there is no point and no sense to talk about other laws or agreements, because it is quite clear that the government will run away again at the last minute,” Lapid claimed in his last Knesset speech before the summer recess.

“Yair Lapid is ready to talk with Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas] without preconditions, but for Likud he is setting out a list of preconditions for talks,” Netanyahu’s party retorted in a statement.

“We invite Lapid to enter into negotiations today so that we can all reach a broad agreement,” continued the missive posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

On July 24, all 64 members of Netanyahu’s coalition voted into law a bill to restrict judges’ use of the “reasonableness” standard. The amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

Netanyahu has said that the government will seek an agreement with the opposition on the rest of the judicial reform package during the Knesset’s summer recess, which starts on Sunday.

“We all agree that Israel must remain a strong democracy, that it will continue to protect everyone’s individual rights, that it will not become a halachic state,” Netanyahu said, referring to the concept of a state governed by Jewish law, in an address to the nation last week.

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