Herzog: Divided Israel mustn't fall like ancient Israel over judicial reforms

Though Israel is amidst a period of trials and tribulations, Herzog urges Israelis to band together.

 Israelis protest against the current Israeli government, in Tel Aviv, on January 7, 2023 (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Israelis protest against the current Israeli government, in Tel Aviv, on January 7, 2023
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Israel must not become divided and collapse before its 80th year like ancient Jewish kingdoms over the proposed judicial reforms, Israeli President Isaac Herzog urged on Tuesday at the Ashmoret 2023 Conference.

"I see before my eyes the cleavages and rifts within us, which are getting deeper and deeper, and I cannot help but remember that twice in history -- during the reigns of the House of David and the Hasmoneans -- a Jewish state arose in the Land of Israel; And twice she collapsed before reaching her eightieth year," said Herzog.

"The most urgent discourse at this time concerns the legal reform promoted by the government, which arouses serious controversy and serious concerns among large sections of the public."

Herzog called on leaders and authorities to take the time for discourse and talk with an open heart, warning that the lack of communication was dangerous.

"it is permissible and proper to criticize any authorities, and it is important to understand the depths of frustration, anger and pain that are at the basis of that criticism," said Herzog. "It is legitimate to have a practical discussion about the boundaries of the sector and the relationship between the authorities -- just like what happens in many democracies in the world -- But with conversation."

 Thousands of Israelis protest against the proposed changes to the legal system, on haBima square in Tel Aviv, on January 14, 2023.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Thousands of Israelis protest against the proposed changes to the legal system, on haBima square in Tel Aviv, on January 14, 2023. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Calling to protect democracy

Herzog reiterated his own position that civil rights and democracy needed to be protected, and the judicial reforms proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin at the beginning of January were done hastily and without proper dialogue with key authorities and the public. The lack of discourse is what has led to the current "dangerous situation."

"It seems that not only have we forgotten how to agree, but we can't even argue," said Herzog.

The president expressed optimism, saying the State of Israel can reach its 80th year, more united and less divided.

"I am not a prophet of doom," said Herzog. "I am a great believer in the resilience of the State of Israel, and the strength of the wonderful people who live here."