President Isaac Herzog declared that Israel is “in fatal days” in a speech broadcast on television and referred to it as “a unique address to the nation.”
Herzog, whose hands were trembling with emotion, said he had been trying recently to find a “wide agreement” on the controversial government proposals to reform the court. He also urged the parties not to take a zero-sum stance.
The president declared in his speech that if a consensus cannot be formed, “we will all lose, the State of Israel will lose.”
Herzog claims that a recent terror attack victim’s family requested him to “do everything to end the madness.”
He warns that “we are on the edge of constitutional and social breakdown,” claiming that the gap is no longer merely a political crisis.
Herzog describes the protesters as “patriots who are utilizing the right to protest… and are committed to the fate of the nation and the country” about the ongoing demonstrations against the proposed changes.
Despite this, the president issued a warning: “I feel, and I think we all feel, that a confrontation, perhaps even a violent clash, is just around the corner. Brother is preparing to raise his hand against Brother as the powder keg is about to burst.
He continued, “The external threats are bad enough.” Internal violence of any kind, especially against public officials and representatives, is forbidden.
The three pillars of government must be balanced, the Knesset is sovereign, and reform and “changes can be legal,” according to Herzog.
About the judiciary’s detractors, the president complains about the “lack of diversity” in the courts, saying it “very concerns” him.
He also claims that the upcoming shakeup is the consequence of a [political] faction that believes there has been an imbalance between the branches.
“It would be a grave error to reject or ignore this pain felt by our brothers and sisters,” he asserts.
On the other hand, I want to emphasize that those who have [power in] the government institutions now bear the primary duty of listening and feeling suffering.
The package of measures proposed by the cabinet “raises a deep worry of their potential for harm to the State of Israel’s democratic institutions,” according to Herzog.
“We are a state of the rule of law thanks to the professional, responsible, independent, and autonomous judiciary,” says Herzog of Israel, calling the Supreme Court “the pride of our country” and noting that “Israel’s courts and judges truly protect Israeli society and the state against crime, external [legal] attacks on IDF soldiers, against the loss of the principles of justice, law, and morality, and the trampling of individual rights.”
The reform is seen as a genuine change by “millions of residents here, along with the Jews of the Diaspora and tremendous supporters of Israel throughout the world,” he writes.
Herzog concluded by outlining the principles that he believes will lead to a compromise: 1) Passing a constitution that would replace fundamental laws and be approved by a large majority; 2) Reducing the backlog of cases caused by the judicial system; 3) Improving the effectiveness of the court system and boosting public confidence in the judiciary; and 4) Reorganizing the judicial appointments committee so that it fairly represents the Knesset, the populace, and the judiciary itself. 5) Restricting the legal term “reasonability” to extreme circumstances.
At Monday’s Knesset committee meeting, Herzog argued that his principles might serve as a foundation for compromise but encouraged the coalition to postpone the bill’s first reading.
In response to Herzog’s address, coalition leaders labeled it “hypocritical,” noting that the president had done nothing to stop the previous administration from passing overtly discriminatory laws towards minorities and specifically targeted chareidim.
Rothman, the law committee chair, said that after a first reading, he would wait a week to determine if any changes were necessary.