Claim that reforms will end democracy ‘without foundation’: Netanyahu blasts opposition

Netanyahu quoted Yair Lapid and Gideon Sa’ar, who themselves had pushed for similar reforms but are now leading the protest movement against the new government.

By World Israel News Staff

At Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repudiated claims that his government’s judicial reforms threaten Israeli democracy.

“The claim that the reform is the end of democracy is without foundation,” he stated.

“Until recently, many people from all parts of the political spectrum have recognized the need to restore the balance between the three authorities.

“‘There has been a hostile takeover by the proponents of judicial activism over political discourse and the decision-making world in Israel.’ There are not my words but those of Yair Lapid, when he was finance minister, in 2014,” the prime minister noted.

He also quoted another opponent to the current reforms – former justice minister Gideon Saar, who said in 2014: “The balance between the authorities needs to include the override clause. The last word needs to be that of the Knesset because the Knesset represents the people.”

According to Netanyahu, “the truth is that the balance between the authorities in the governing system has been violated in the past two decades, especially in recent years. This is an exceptional phenomenon without peer in the democratic world – neither in the U.S., nor Western Europe nor in Israel, in its first 50 years.

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“Was Israel in its first 50 years, before the activist revolution, not an exemplary democracy? Are the U.S. and the countries of Western Europe, in which there is no far-reaching judicial activism such as ours, not exemplary democracies today?

“The effort to restore the correct balance between the authorities is not the destruction of democracy, but the strengthening of democracy. However, there is no doubt that this needs to be done responsibly and sagaciously, and this is what we will do.”

Furthermore, “I have heard about the proposal to establish a public committee to discuss reform of the judicial system. I do not recall hearing a similar proposal to establish such a committee from the outgoing transitional government when it signed a capitulation agreement to hand over territory and economic assets of the State of Israel to Hezbollah. It did not even bother to submit the proposal to the Knesset for discussion, as required by law. We will act differently.”

The reform presented by Justice Minister Yariv Levin “will be discussed seriously and in depth by the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, where all opinions – without exception – will be heard. This is the appropriate, natural and legal forum for this in-depth discussion.”

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Comparing Israeli minister to Nazi leader

Netanyahu then commented on the recent protests against the new government, including the large left-wing demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday night against the judicial reforms.

“I do not know if you saw them, but I was simply shocked,”he said. “Over the weekend, I saw posters that compared the justice minister to the leader of the Nazis and spoke of the Sixth Reich. This is wild incitement that passed without condemnation by the opposition or the main media outlets.

“This must stop immediately and must be strongly condemned by everyone. A serious and substantive discussion – however pointed – must be held about the reform.

“I would like to emphasize: We received a clear and strong mandate from the public to carry out what we promised during the elections and this is what we will do. This is the implementation of the will of the voters and this is the essence of democracy.”