Opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid introduced thanked fellow opposition MKs Labor Chairwoman MK Merav Michaeli and National Unity Chairman MK Benny Gantz as MK Karine Elharrar officially applied as the opposition's candidate for the Judicial Selection Committee on Wednesday evening.
Gantz and Michaeli withdrew their candidates earlier in the day to unite the opposition.
"In the days when democracy is under attack, the opposition stands together to defend the justice system," Lapid said. "MK Karine Elharrar is the agreed candidate of the opposition for the Judicial Selection Committee.
"We will stand as a wall against any attempt by the government to appoint judges on its behalf and against any attempt to harm the independence of the High Court of Justice," he continued. "I thank Benny Gantz and Merav Michaeli and all the leaders of the opposition parties, who showed responsibility and rose to the occasion."
"We cannot take a risk at the expense of the State of Israel," Gantz wrote on Twitter when he announced that his party would not put forth a candidate. He then called on Lapid and Michaeli to reach an agreement and find an agreed-upon candidate for the committee.
מדינת ישראל נמצאת במאבק על ערכיה הבסיסיים – על הדמוקרטיה שלה. מחאה אזרחית אדירה בשילוב עם תבונה פוליטית ורצון כן בהידברות והסכמות, הצליחו עד עכשיו למנוע נזק אדיר לאופיינו, לעוצמתנו, לכלכלתנו ולאחדותנו.היעד המעשי החשוב ביותר שלנו בימים האלו כמי שרוצים בישראל יהודית, דמוקרטית,…— בני גנץ - Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) June 7, 2023
Following Gantz's announcement, Michaeli also announced she is withdrawing the candidacy of Labor MK Efrat Rayten, whom she had pushed for the committee spot.
Following Michaeli and Gantz's announcement, MK Karine Elharrar, Yesh Atid's pick for the committee, officially handed in her candidacy to the Knesset. She is expected to be supported by the Labor and National Unity factions in the votes, which are set to take place next week.
Israel's coalition, opposition close on judicial reform compromise - report
Israel's coalition and opposition are close to a draft agreement on the judicial reform, according to a Tuesday evening KAN News report.
According to the report, the draft reportedly agreed upon in talks at the President's Residence, stipulates that the coalition will allow the appointment of an opposition representative to the judge selection committee, and will agree not to pursue further legislation in this session of the Knesset.
It was also reported that the two sides agreed that the term of an attorney-general term who serves in a dedicated ministry will serve only six years. Additionally, candidates from outside the civil service will be able to be appointed as A-Gs.
A minister may be able to fire an A-G with the approval of a committee that will include representatives of the director general of the ministry, as well as the A-G to the government, who will have equal authority.
Other sections in the draft include giving the ministers the opportunity to "appeal" to the government A-G about the position of the A-G of his office, as well as stating that the government and its representatives will be entitled to receive separate legal representation if the A-G chooses not to represent them.
Also, in addition to the A-G law, the reasonableness clause will not apply to the government's decisions in regard to policy matters or in matters of appointing members to the government.
Gantz's National Unity denies report
The National Unity party responded to the report: "Unfortunately, there is no progress towards agreements and this is false advertising."
Labor party chairwoman Merav Michaeli wrote: "I refuse to believe that Lapid and Gantz, who went out to demonstrate against the coup d'etat week after week, agreed to the firing of legal advisers, to private legal representation for ministers and to reduce the reasonableness clause, all in exchange for the government to uphold the democratic practice that has been practiced in our places since time immemorial - to allow a representative from the opposition on the judge selection committee."
"I call on them to make it clear immediately that there is no truth to this and that they will not make such deals and will not allow damage to our democracy."