More than a third of Israelis fear the possibility of a civil war over the government's proposed judicial reforms, according to a poll commissioned by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) that was published on Tuesday.
According to the poll, while only 35% of people think the judicial reform will lead to civil war, 60% believe there will be any kind of violence in the struggle between those who support the reform and those who oppose it. The concern exists across the political spectrum among people of all ages and backgrounds.
“These numbers appear unrealistic at first glance, but in fact, as we double and triple checked, we found that Israelis don’t think the possibility of some sort of violent conflict is just political rhetoric or media spin; it’s a real concern,” said JPPI President Yedidia Stern.
How do Israelis feel about the reform?
Currently, 41% of Israelis support and 44% oppose the reform that seeks to overhaul the justice system and give the government greater power over it. Among the changes proposed is an override clause to strike High Court of Justice rulings with a simple Knesset majority, giving politicians a majority on the Judicial Selection Committee, requiring unanimous agreement among High Court justices to use judicial review, canceling the reasonableness clause and requiring legal advisers to hold the opinion of the government.
While 84% of Israelis believe the judicial system is in need of any change, only 22% support every change proposed in the reform, and the plan has been met with heavy criticism both from within Israel and without.
Last week, President Isaac Herzog called for the coalition to freeze legislation in the reform pending negotiations and discussion between both sides, a move that half the country supports, according to the poll. The coalition, however, rejected this and submitted the reform on Saturday night.
"These survey results are a flashing red light that Israeli politicians must heed."JPPI President Yedidia Stern
“There is clear, broad public support for compromise and dialogue among those who support the reform and those who oppose it," said Stern. "There is a huge silent majority of Israelis who fear a civil war and want their elected officials to enter into a negotiation process. These survey results are a flashing red light that Israeli politicians must heed. Our nation depends on it.”
Last week, the JPPI launched a campaign calling for compromise under the slogan "no to coercion and violence, yes to dialogue."
Michael Starr contributed to this report.