Israel shouldn't expect judicial reform compromise soon - official source

Despite widespread support for the compromise, some factions are preventing it from being finalized.

 ‘OUR PRESIDENT, Isaac Herzog, should encourage more of these dialogues. Sadly, most politicians prefer exploiting our differences to overcoming them,’ the writer argues.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
‘OUR PRESIDENT, Isaac Herzog, should encourage more of these dialogues. Sadly, most politicians prefer exploiting our differences to overcoming them,’ the writer argues.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Israel should not expect an official announcement of a judicial reform compromise soon despite agreement on both sides, according to sources close to the negotiations.

President Isaac Herzog confirmed in a speech on Wednesday there is agreement from both the opposition and the coalition for the outline that was leaked last week. The outline included new legislation of a milder law to limit the reasonableness standard and an 18-month legislation freeze on the reform.

“This proposal has widespread agreement,” he said. “The proposal has consensus from people in the coalition and the opposition, law people, researchers, government people, and citizens with a wide range of opinions.

“All that is needed now is a leader’s decision,” he added. “We can reach agreements, we can stop the risks, we can return the nation to sanity, we can create a year of hope.”

Despite the bilateral agreements, however, a source said that an official announcement should not be expected soon because while some officials from both sides were in agreement, it would be more complicated to get certain other factions on board.

When will the compromise be settled?

This comes after reports in the last week claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to get a compromise settled by Thursday so that he could take off for the US at the beginning of next week with the domestic and political crisis surrounding the judicial reform somewhat settled.

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The prime minister exhibited his determinedness to pass the compromise earlier this week when National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he was against “surrender at the President’s Residence.”

In response, Netanyahu said he would not let anyone get in the way of a good deal that would preserve the balance between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government.

Further disagreements between the two in the last few days, concerning the conditions of terrorist prisoners, led Ben-Gvir to eventually announce on Wednesday that his Otzma Yehudit Party would no longer be bound by the coalition in government and Knesset votes until his demands are met.

Opposition to the compromise outline could also come from within the Likud, starting with Justice Minister Yariv Levin. When the outline was first leaked, Levin insisted that he knew nothing of it and that he would not accept it because it “doesn’t change the basic thing that needs changing in the Judicial Selection Committee.”

Additionally, in messages obtained by Israel Hayom on Wednesday, Levin told a Likud activist that “there will be no return to the President’s Residence,” where the negotiations had been taking place.

Another obstacle to the finalization of the deal is mistrust from the opposition’s side, the source said.

National Unity leader Benny Gantz, for instance, announced on Monday that as long as Netanyahu demonstrated real intention and good faith, his party would support the outline no matter Netanyahu’s motives if they felt it would protect democracy and prevent politicization of the judicial system.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, on the other hand, was less eager to commit to accepting the outline, saying that while he supported negotiations and compromise, he saw this outline as a scam. He went on to accuse Netanyahu of advancing the “fictitious compromise that has no backup from the coalition” for the prime minister’s own benefit.

In the meantime, with distrust and accusations being hurled from both sides, a compromise agreement does not seem imminent, and Israel will have to wait and see if and when it will indeed happen.