(Photo credit: Tomer Neuberg, Flash90)
Israel’s former defense minister and leader of the National Unity Party, Benny Gantz, said on 1 May that negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise on the government’s judicial overhaul plan have made no progress.
“The negotiations aren’t progressing at all on any issue, particularly not that of the Judicial Selection Committee,” Gantz said during a meeting with his party in the Knesset.
“We will not allow politicians to control the appointment of judges because this amounts to political judges,” he said, echoing the opposition’s concerns that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government aims to transform ‘Israeli democracy’ into a full-blown dictatorship.
Gantz and his National Unity Party “will not compromise” on this position, the former defense minister said. Negotiations cannot continue indefinitely, Gantz added.
At the end of March, Netanyahu responded to the growing protests by announcing a postponement of the judicial overhaul plan until the next Knesset vote in May.
The prime minister said at the time: “When there’s an opportunity to avoid civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, am taking a timeout for dialogue,” pledging to reach a “broad consensus” by the first Knesset summer session.
However, just two days ago, the Knesset reopened for the summer – with the first session taking place on 1 May and resulting in “a rowdy mudslinging match between coalition and opposition over the government’s [overhaul] plans,” The Times of Israel reported.
“You talk only about dialogue, but at the talks say, ‘No, no, no, no.’ I would be happy to hear what you do agree to … I call on you to listen, come to your senses, chart a new course, and enter into real talks with us to try to reach agreements,” Netanyahu told lawmakers during the session.
As attempts at dialogue fail, tensions within Israeli society remain high. Moreover, large anti-government protests have continued and remain ongoing.
Recently, these demonstrations have been met with massive counter-protests by supporters of Netanyahu and his overhaul plans.
Four days ago, tens of thousands of far-right Israelis flooded the streets in support of the prime minister.
“I am deeply moved by the tremendous support,” Netanyahu said via Twitter.
If Netanyahu moves forward with the overhaul, as planned for this month, the situation is likely to explode once again.