National Unity will support the judicial reform compromise outline discussed in the last week no matter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's motivation for pushing for it, party leader Benny Gantz said on Monday.
"In the last few days, the president advanced an outline in which I saw a base for widespread agreements that would protect the democracy and the value of a-politicization of the judiciary system and would give the other side an opportunity to influence to some degree because at the end of the day, the victory of one side or the surrender of the other will cost us dearly," he said. "I'm not interested in Netanyahu's motivation. If there is a solution on the table that will protect democracy, I will be there."
The president's compromise outline, which was leaked last week, sees the government legislating a less extreme reasonableness clause amendment as well as a freeze on judicial reform legislation for 18 months.
Timing is key
Many have speculated that Netanyahu is pushing for the compromise to be accepted now specifically because he wants to avoid the High Court of Justice hearings on the reasonableness clause (Tuesday) and the Judicial Selection Committee (September 19) and because when he travels to the US on Sunday, he wants to show that the domestic unrest surrounding the reform has been settled.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said on Sunday that he had warned President Isaac Herzog's negotiation team and his fellow opposition members of this timing.
"A few days before Netanyahu's trip to the US, a compromise proposal will suddenly show up that will look too good to be true," he said he had told them a month ago. "And you should know that it indeed isn't real. Its goal will not be to reach agreements, but to get Netanyahu a meeting at the White House and especially to make matters difficult for the High Court justices while they are debating the petitions."
Motive doesn't matter
To Gantz, however, the reason doesn't matter as long as Netanyahu agrees to compromise in good faith.
"Netanyahu will have to demonstrate real intention and the ability to stand behind his suggestions or other suggestions as long as he accepts them," he said.
At the same time, Gantz called on Netanyahu to publicly announce that he will respect the High Court's decision if it rules against the reasonableness clause.
"Criticizing the court and its rulings is okay, but whoever doesn't respect the court's decisions is not only risking bringing us to a legislative crisis, they will also revoke their own legitimacy as a government to make decisions," he said.
If the High Court strikes down the law to limit the reasonableness clause, this will be the first time it strikes down a basic law or part of it. As such, a few members of the coalition explicitly said that they would not respect such a ruling while only three said they would - Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Interior and Health Minister Moshe Arbel, and Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel. Meanwhile, many have refused to commit to respecting whatever ruling the High Court gives with Netanyahu being among them.
"I'm announcing that I will accept any ruling made by the court no matter what it is in every issue," Gantz said during his speech.