Shas chairman MK Arye Deri was quoted on Monday in Shas' newspaper Haderech that the coalition can bring forward judicial reform laws "whenever it wants" if a compromise is not reached with the opposition in the current negotiations at the President's Residence,
"We will sit and talk, if we arrive at agreements that will be the best, we will all certainly be happy if there are understandings and agreements," Deri said. "But if not, we will proceed without them [the opposition]. Let us not forget, the laws are ready for their second and third reading, we do not have to wait for months. Whenever we want, we can enter the plenum and pass the laws," Deri said.
Protest leaders against the judicial reform issued a statement in response, "Deri, the convicted criminal, seeks to tear apart the people, and ruin the economy and the reserve army. Only massive protests will stop the dictatorship people from ruining Israel." The protests leader concluded by encouraging people to join the weekly Saturday night protests at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv.
United Torah Judaism's MK Moshe Gafni said later on Monday at a Channel 14 conference that he would insist that an Override Clause of just 61-MKs pass eventually, and that if not, the party "had nothing to do in the political system" if it "could not influence it." Gafni repeated a claim made by a number of coalition members in the past week, that the proper place for the talks to be held was the Knesset and not the President's Residence, and added that he did not think that the talks would succeed.
Deri's and Gafni's comments came after a slew of comments from both sides of the political divide that were interpreted as threats against the ongoing negotiations.
Transportation Minister Miri Regev was quoted in a Likud newspaper on Sunday as saying regarding the bill that would grant the coalition a majority in the Judicial Selections Committee, "If they [the opposition] does not come to agreements with us [the coalition], we will return to the proposal that was approved in its first reading and pass its second and third reading."
Regev added that the legislation had merely been delayed and not cancelled, and that the coalition would continue the legislation "immediately after Independence Day."
Opposition criticizes the comment
The comment led to criticism from the opposition, including from Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and from the National Unity Party. National Unity said in a short statement that it "proposed to Miri Regev to unload the pistol on the table and not sabotage the negotiations, in order to reach broad agreements amongst the people."
National Unity MK Chili Tropper, a member of the party's negotiating team, said last week that his party would not consent to any judges being appointed unilaterally by the coalition. This sparked an exchange of accusations with Justice Minister Yariv Levin over unwillingness to negotiate. The two reportedly reconciled.
Liberman wrote on Twitter on Monday morning to his fellow opposition members to "stop with the culture of fake" and "stop being pushovers." Liberman called the negotiations a scam and argued that the issue at hand was not just about judicial reform but also about equality in drafting to the IDF or national service across all walks of society, as well as founding a constitution, which can be done only with the "Zionist parties."
"Enough with the culture of fake. Start talking straightforwardly and announce that due to the announcement by Levin, Regev, Deri and Netanyahu himself you are ceasing the negotiations with the coalition," Liberman called.
The government requested on Monday that Knesset Speaker MK Amir Ohana convene the Knesset plenum during the recess, on April 19, in order to approve a number of issues mostly connected to the distribution of roles within the government: Forming the Women's Affairs Ministry, to be led by current Minister without Portfolio May Golan; moving the Government Companies Authority from the finance ministry to the Regional Cooperation Authority led by newly minted minister Dudi Amsalem; and appointing a permanent health and interior minister.
The appointment of a permanent health and interior minister indicates that Shas MK Arye Deri – who served in these positions until the High Court ruled in January that he must be removed due to the "extreme unreasonableness" of his appointment due to numerous past criminal convictions and misleading a court – had given up on his attempt to return to the positions by passing the so-called "Deri Law," and will remain a regular MK. The permanent health and interior ministers will come from Shas.