Israel's opposition leaders urge Netanyahu to halt judicial overhaul plan, open talks-Xinhua

Israel's opposition leaders urge Netanyahu to halt judicial overhaul plan, open talks

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-03-07 03:40:45

JERUSALEM, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Israel's former prime minister Yair Lapid and former defense minister Benny Gantz on Monday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt his judicial overhaul plan, which sparked massive protests, and open a dialogue.

"In order to have honest and effective dialogue that will lead to preserving democracy and national unity, Netanyahu must announce a complete, comprehensive, and actual halt to the legislative process," Lapid and Gantz, leaders of two centrist opposition parties, said in a joint statement.

"Israel stands at the threshold of a national emergency and Netanyahu refuses to stop," the two former leaders warned, adding that every attempt to reach out and initiate talks with the religious-nationalist coalition government has failed.

Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the pro-settler Religious Zionism party and Israel's finance minister, denounced the statement by Lapid and Gantz as "politically motivated." In a statement, he said the two wish to topple the government and are not interested in a real dialogue.

Earlier in the day, Israeli President Isaac Herzog also called for a dialogue. In a statement, he said he has been working "behind the scenes" in an attempt to broker talks between the coalition and opposition on the suggested reforms. According to Herzog, the two sides were "closer than ever" to reach a compromise agreement on the controversial reform.

Netanyahu's new government, which was sworn-in in late December, is swiftly advancing a plan to overhaul the Israeli legal system.

The plan sparked the largest protests seen in Israel for years. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets across Israel for the past two months, protesting the government's plans to put further limits on the Supreme Court and change the appointment of new judges.

According to Netanyahu, the overhaul is needed in order to curb the overly activist Supreme Court, but critics fear that Netanyahu, who is facing an ongoing graft trial, wishes to gain excessive power over the legal system.