Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put his government’s controversial judicial reform legislation on hold until after the month-long Passover recess in the nation’s parliament known as the Knesset.
It follows nearly 12 weeks of massive street protests that shut down traffic, airport departures, banking and grocery shopping.
CBN News reports the demonstrations were seen as an attempt not just to win the debate over judicial reform, but to topple Mr. Netanyhu’s government amid accusations that it was bringing about the end of Israeli democracy and replacing it with a dictatorship.
Some observers of the long assault by those opposing reform say it has caused deep divisions within the country, bordering on civil war.
In an address to the nation Mr. Netanyahu said he wanted to avoid splitting the nation in two.
“When there’s an opportunity to avoid civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, am taking a timeout for dialogue. I give a real opportunity for a real dialogue. We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system and we are given an opportunity to achieve a broad consensus. This is a very worthy goal,” he said.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has asked Mr. Netanyahu and opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to work together to find a compromise.
Mr. Gantz agreed to try to find that consensus, saying: “We will show up at the President’s Residence, we will extend our hand. I call on Netanyahu to take away the threats, ultimatums and extreme statements that keep us away from the goal. Stop everything and send the relevant teams (to the President’s Residence). We will work to strengthen democracy, improve governance, maintain the independence of the judicial system.”
The White House also applauded Mr. Netanyahu’s decision with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responding: “Democratic societies are strengthened by checks and balances, and fundamental changes to a democratic system should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support. And so that’s what we’re going to continue to call for.”
Proponents of the judicial reforms say they are designed to bring a check and balance to what they called Israel’s “runaway judiciary,” arguing that the judicial system has had little or no restraint on it for decades.
CBN News reports author and commentator Caroline Glick pondered that the acrimony of 2023 might be even greater than during the aftermath of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
“I don’t remember that the levels of hatred were this violent, were this supported and driven by the media,” she said.
Ms. Glick believes the intense internal strife is distracting Israel from its greatest threat in Iran.
“Because people who don’t want Israel to take action against Iran would want Israel to be submerged in domestic rioting, and discord, to make it impossible as a practical matter for the army, for the government, for our intelligence arms to concentrate and focus on the task at hand, which is taking out a sufficient percentage of Iran’s nuclear capabilities … to keep them from getting a nuclear arsenal,” she explained.
Sharren Haskel who’s a member of the opposition National Unity party and chairs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus told Premier Christian News: “It’s a very challenging time right now in Israel. Many of our citizens are really heartbroken.”
She says the Opposition is not anti-reform, insisting: “We’re not against it. We understand that there is the need for reform and for changes. The question is how the judicial system is going to look, the day after. And while they take a far more extreme approach, we are for a far more moderate one. And so sitting around the table and talking together and getting a wide acceptance is crucial for a reform like that.”
The Israeli lawmaker called for Christians everywhere to pray for peace in Israel.
“When we look back on Jewish history, look at how twice the Israeli nation was almost completely destroyed. Twice our Temple, the highest most sacred place was destroyed. Not because of enemies from the outside.”
“Time after time, and if you look on the history of 75 years of Israel, it is an absolute miracle. And you can say it out loud, ‘God is on our side’. The war that we won, and the strength that we receive is an absolute miracle. You cannot explain it otherwise”, she continued.
Ms. Haskel pleaded for worldwide prayers for Israel’s unity, security and safety “because we are surrounded with enemies from every single border. And this is a great, life threatening challenge that we face every single day living here. “