WASHINGTON – Several major Jewish groups and members of Congress issued statements welcoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement on the halt of judicial overhaul and called for dialogue between party leaders.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois-10) said that “Netanyahu’s announced pause of legislation to reform Israel’s judiciary is a promising and welcome step that hopefully will create space for all parties to come together and find common ground.”
“As a life-long, committed supporter of Israel and with Passover approaching, I pray all sides will use the time to reflect on the ties that have bound the Jewish nation since time immemorial,” said Schneider. “In that spirit, I hope for fair and open negotiations towards a resolution that is broadly acceptable across Israeli society.”
“I commend President [Isaac] Herzog for his tireless work to bring the sides together, Netanyahu for announcing a pause, and all the leaders in Israel committed to coming to the table and working together to build consensus, confront extremism and advance democracy,” the Congressman added.
Past months have been 'extraordinarily painful'
Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, said: “We welcome Netanyahu's decision to delay judicial reform until May and his commitment to enabling dialogue.”
“These past months have been an extraordinarily painful period in Israel, and we implore all parties to come together to ensure Israel's future as a vibrant Jewish and democratic state," Goldstein added.
Democratic Majority for Israel Board Co-Chairs Ann Lewis and Todd Richman welcomed the announcement as well. “We hope the prime minister's move will enable real dialogue under the auspices of President Herzog and lead to a reasonable compromise that protects Israeli democracy and enjoys wide support from the country’s citizens,” they said.
“For weeks, hundreds of thousands of patriotic Israelis have been in the streets protesting and fighting to protect their democracy,” Lewis and Richman said. “The Israeli people must decide for themselves the way forward, but ultimately the US-Israel relationship is based importantly on shared values, a key element of which is an independent judiciary.”
Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) CEO Halie Soifer said that the organization is “deeply committed to the unbreakable bonds between America and Israel, including support for Israel’s security and democracy.”
“For this reason, we remain concerned that the judicial overhaul proposal would weaken Israel’s democratic institutions by undermining the independence and strength of Israel’s judiciary,” she said.
She went on to say that “JDCA stands with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets in support of democracy and opposition to the proposed judicial overhaul.”
On Monday, a group of four organizations - JFNA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Conference of Presidents, said in a statement that “the last three months have been painful to watch and yet a textbook case of democracy in action.”
“We respect the political leaders, business executives, community activists, cultural figures, and ordinary Israelis who took to the streets, exercising their love of country, and their passion for democracy,” the Jewish groups said.
They went on to say that as a next step, they “encourage all Knesset factions, coalition and opposition alike, to use this time to build a consensus that includes the broad support of Israeli civil society.”
“Israel’s political leaders must insist on a more respectful tone and debate. A hallmark of democracy is public consensus and mutual consideration,” the statement reads.
“AJC, the Conference of Presidents, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and the Jewish Federations of North America will continue to confer with Israel’s government and civic leaders to ensure that the views of American Jewry are represented in the discussion,” they wrote. We are confident the resilience of Israeli democracy will successfully overcome the tremendous challenges it faces.”