The opposition will return to talks at the President's Residence on Sunday as soon as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows through on appointing the Knesset's second representative to Israel's Judicial Selection Committee, opposition leader and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid wrote in a post on Facebook on Sunday, hours before the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee led by MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) resumed discussions on a bill proposal connected to the government's judicial reform after a three-month freeze.
"In the coming days [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin and Rothman will do everything to blow up the possibility that we will return to the President's Residence. They will take the discussions in the Constitution Committee to the extreme, drag the country into a head-on confrontation. We all know what the price will be: the economy will deteriorate sharply, the cost of living will soar, security will be seriously damaged, the countries of the world will turn their backs on us, [and] Israeli society will collapse," Lapid wrote.
"This is crazy behavior, mainly because it has a sane alternative: to quickly choose the missing representative in the Judicial Selection Committee, and return to the discussions at the President's Residence. This is the right place; this is the right way. I refuse to give up the possibility of a shared life and common good. To destroy is easy, but the role of responsible leadership is to deal with the difficulty," he wrote.
Lapid adjusts his previous position
The post marked a slight change in Lapid's position, as the opposition leader said last week that the nine-member committee would need to convene and begin to operate before his party would return to talks. The change in position likely came after public criticism over his and fellow opposition party leader, National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz, decision to pull out of the talks after the prime minister attempted on June 14 to delay the Knesset's vote for its representatives by a month.
"The discussions in the President's Residence are not easy," Lapid continued. "In recent months we have been conducting tough, mistrustful and exhausting negotiations there on each and every clause. We will not bow down and never give up on liberal values, but not every change is the end of democracy and not every amendment is a reason for civil war. The experts of the 'Israeli Democracy Institute' are closely accompanying the process on our behalf. They know how to warn of any attempt to sneak anti-democratic clauses into the room," Lapid wrote.
"There are, of course, issues that, from our point of view, we will not accept. If the government tries to take over the Judicial Selection Committee or erode the independence of the Supreme Court, we will immediately leave the President's Residence. As long as this is not on the agenda, we should continue to try to reach an agreed outline that will preserve Israeli democracy."
"To prevent an internal collapse of Israel, Netanyahu must stop the unilateral legislative processes in the Constitutional Committee just before they get out of control, and complete the process of establishing the Judicial Selection Committee. It's a simple and short process. It includes one vote in the plenum, which can be held in the next few days. After that we can return to the President's Residence and continue the negotiations until we reach agreements that will preserve democracy and prevent a national disaster," Lapid concluded.