Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Thursday evening to "end the division among the people" after nearly three months of massive protests against the justice reform bill currently under consideration in parliament.
Mr. Netanyahu, who had hitherto remained in the background on this dossier, announced that he was coming “on the scene” and that he was determined to push forward the reform, but that he would do everything to “reach a solution "acceptable both to the project's defenders and its detractors. His remarks only provoked shrugs from his opponents.
"We cannot allow a dispute, no matter how acute, to jeopardize our common future... Opponents of reform are not traitors, supporters are not fascists," he said. he declared, referring to the favorite invectives of each of the two camps against the other.
"I will do everything, everything, in order to calm the spirits and put an end to the division within the people," he said again.
While taking note of the fears expressed by the opponents of the reform, he announced that the bill modifying the composition of the commission for the appointment of judges would be submitted to the vote of the deputies for adoption in plenary session "next week".
This is one of the central elements of the reform, at the heart of the concerns of its detractors. The text was amended these days in committee to soften its content with a view to achieving a wider vote, but without the support of the opposition.
The reform aims to increase the power of elected officials over that of magistrates. According to its detractors, it jeopardizes the democratic character of the State of Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu and his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies believe the reform is necessary to restore a balanced balance of power between elected officials and the Supreme Court, which they consider politicized.
The prime minister spoke after a meeting with his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who initially announced his intention to speak publicly earlier in the evening.
Mr. Gallant, who repeatedly asked the ruling coalition to pause the legislative process to allow negotiations with the opposition on the reform, finally canceled his intervention.
For a little over an hour, Israeli television spoke of the prospect of the minister's resignation, or the possibility of an explosion of the government coalition, one of the most right-wing in the history of Israel. .
According to the Israeli press, Mr. Gallant and several officials of the security apparatus have warned the Prime Minister in recent days about the threats that the continuation of the project poses to national security.
President Isaac Herzog openly mentioned the risk of "civil war".
"Tonight, Netanyahu chose to ignore his defense minister [...] and chose to deliver a speech disconnected from reality, full of lies. This is irresponsibility," said the head of the opposition, Yaïr Lapid (center).
“Nothing has changed under the sun and Netanyahu is [still] the same,” said Benny Gantz (center right), another opposition figure, regretting that the Prime Minister “is not up to the challenge”.
Again Thursday, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the reform during a new national day of mobilization, punctuated by clashes between demonstrators and police in Tel Aviv.
The Black Flags, one of the movements at the forefront of the mobilization, described Mr. Netanyahu's television performance as "a bizarre spectacle of a dictator in the making".
Israeli officials willingly present their country as "the only democracy in the Middle East" but many critics, both outside and inside Israel, point to the "incomplete" nature of this democracy, given the discrimination continue to suffer from its Arab citizens, from the weight of the religious institution, which leads to discrimination between men and women, or from the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
"I intend to enshrine individual rights in law. We will guarantee the basic rights of all citizens of Israel - Jews and non-Jews, secular and religious, women, LGBT people. Everyone - without exception,” Netanyahu promised in his speech.
23/03/2023 23:11:47 - Jerusalem (AFP) - © 2023 AFP