Israeli President reveals judicial reform compromise, fearing ‘civil war’

Isaac Herzog has been issuing increasingly desperate pleas for dialogue as rifts grow over the government’s legal overhaul

Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Bloomberg
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Israeli President Isaac Herzog laid out a compromise plan on Wednesday to reunite his country and avoid “blood in the streets,” as the government presses on with its controversial judicial reform package that opponents say could end democracy.

Mr Herzog said that his proposal were a “golden path” to bring Israel back from the brink of “civil war”.

"I want to tell you something from the heart and I very much hope that it will penetrate your hearts,” he said.

“In my life, in the worst nightmares, I never thought I would hear such words, even if it is from a very small minority of people.

"I heard startling rhetoric. I hear real, deep hatred. I hear people from all parties say that the idea of blood in the streets no longer shocks them."

Mr Herzog said the crisis provided an “opportunity” for the country to create a constitution.

His proposals relate to factors including legal review of parliamentary legislation and the selection of judges, which the government has said are needed to curtail an overly powerful judiciary with an anti-right-wing bias.

The government’s overhaul has sparked the largest protests in the country’s history, according to organisers, and has drawn unprecedented criticism from high-profile industry and security figures.

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As Mr Herzog was preparing to announce his plans, Communications Minister Shalom Karhi appeared to dismiss the attempt.

“Mr President, the people’s framework was set out exactly four months ago. We are on it," Mr Karhi tweeted.

It has been a tumultuous day for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had to delay an official visit to Germany as a result of the president’s compromise package.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that Mr Netanyahu would also be returning early from Berlin to deal with a suspected Hezbollah attack in the north of Israel on Monday, in which a bomb severely injured a civilian.

Updated: March 15, 2023, 7:49 PM