Israel's President Herzog: Compromise on judicial reform 'closer than ever'
'We are in a historic crisis that threatens to destroy us from within'
Israel's President Isaac Herzog on Monday gathered about 100 mayors and local councils at the President's House to promote an outline for negotiations regarding the judicial reform.
"We are closer than ever to the possibility of an agreed outline. There are agreements behind the scenes on most things. Now it depends on our national leadership, the coalition, and the opposition, who will manage to rise to the magnitude of the moment, who will understand the terrible alternative that is hidden in the situation beyond the door, and who will put the country and the citizens above everything else," Herzog told the local officials.
He noted that the outline he was working to formulate "gives answers to both sides."
"It includes diversity of the judiciary and extensive reflection of the defenders of opinions and communities," Herzog continued. "It lays down important and historical constitutional foundations, it anchors a healthy structure of balance between the authorities, it protects democracy and human rights at all costs, and on the independence of the judicial system. It protects the minorities and protects the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state based on the principles of the Declaration of Independence."
The president also shared his concerns over the deepening crisis in Israeli society caused by the division over the proposed reforms. He noted that local authorities are the ones who face the consequences of this division as there is a "dramatic increase in inquiries in the field of mental health" due to people being worried about the ongoing crisis.
"We are in a historic crisis that threatens to destroy us from within. We are in one of the most difficult moments that the State of Israel has experienced. It seems like a paradox, doesn't it? No missiles, no alarms, no red alert. But we all know deep down that this is a supreme national danger," he underlined.
Herzog called on the local authorities, who according to the president, have "enormous power" to "demand with every tool you have" to reach a settlement that would calm the tensions.
Israeli Opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz in response jointly said they appreciate Herzog's efforts and accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of refusing to halt the reform hearings to find a compromise.
"Every reaching out of our hand for the unity of Israel was met with trampling and refusal. Israel is on the brink of a national emergency, and Netanyahu refuses to stop. We greatly respect and appreciate the efforts of the President of the State to reach broad negotiations and agreements. But in order to reach honest and effective negotiations that will lead to preserving democracy and the unity of the people, Netanyahu must announce a complete, comprehensive, and real halt to the legislative process," they said in a statement, adding that "all attempts at shortcuts are a trampling of real dialogue."