BAKU - The deep divisions over the role of the judiciary pose a real threat to Israel’s security, President Isaac Herzog warned in a briefing to reporters during his trip to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
“The best thing for Israel is to reach a broad agreement, allowing us to rise out of the straits of this difficult period that threatens to destroy us from the inside,” Herzog said.
The president said that people doubted him in the past when he said “our enemies are celebrating” the disarray in Israeli society, but they believed after Passover.
“We never before had a Passover during which we were attacked on three different fronts,” he said, referring to terrorism from Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank in April.
“We buried our heads in the sand, but it’s real,” he added.
“The best thing for Israel is to reach a broad agreement, allowing us to rise out of the straits of this difficult period that threatens to destroy us from the inside.”Isaac Herzog
The president has been hosting talks between coalition and opposition representatives to reach a consensus version of judicial reform. Opposition leader Yair Lapid and MK Benny Gantz threatened on Tuesday to leave talks if the coalition advances any bills to “change the system of government.”
A source in the president’s delegation dismissed the threat as “interests from outside of the negotiating room.”
“It’s not new. Leaders have to act under pressure and there is spin that tries to ruin things,” he said.
He also said Netanyahu is serious about wanting to reach a broad agreement, citing the prime minister’s statements in interviews that the “override clause” to re-legislate laws the High Court of Justice strikes down will not be part of the reform, or will be moderated.
The fact that the talks are taking so long is a sign of their seriousness, the source added.
“If they weren’t serious, they would have ended already,” he said.
President Herzog is “not naive; [he] thinks we can reach an agreement. It’s a long process without a deadline. They are having deep conversations to try to build an infrastructure for solutions, and there are a lot of ideas,” the source says.
The talks have included civil rights issues, how judges are appointed, judicial review and the reasonability standard, as well as the status of the attorney-general and ministerial legal advisers.
While the way the coalition tried to rush the judicial reform through the Knesset was “very problematic,” the source said, Herzog views “the debate on the limits of each branch of government as legitimate…Though we need to be careful regarding the independence of the judiciary.”
“There is goodwill in the room on both of these parameters,” the source added.