Crisis ‘tearing our nation apart,’ says Herzog, pleading for dialogue but ‘not certain of success’

Booed at massive anti-Netanyahu government protests the night before, the Israeli president vowed to do his best to bring about a solution, but not sure of success.

By World Israel News Staff

Amid the massive protests rocking Tel Aviv and, to a lesser extent, Jerusalem and Haifa, Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a statement Sunday morning, vowing to try and bring the nation together.

The previous evening, tens of thousands of left-wing protesters, led by the Opposition, packed Habima Square in Tel Aviv, demonstrating against the new Netanyahu government and especially plans by Justice Minister Yariv Levin to bring about judicial reform.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, former IDF deputy chief Yair Golan and former defense minister Benny Gantz, among other left-wing politicians, are calling for the public to rebel and have warned about an impending civil war.

While the crowd protested against the reforms, saying they would signal the end of democracy in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Levin insist that such claims are without foundation and that the government received a clear mandate in the recent national election to go ahead with the plan.

“We received a clear mandate from the public,” Netanyahu said, “to carry out what we promised in the elections and we will do so. This is the essence of democracy – it is the realization of the voter’s will.”

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The crowd also booed Herzog, demanding that he declare Netanyahu unfit to serve.

Calling the president by his nickname, the protesters chanted, “Bougie, wake up, the house is burning…the public is worth more.”

The Jerusalem demonstration was held outside Herzog’s residence.

Apparently responding to the references to him personally, Herzog said that he would do his best to bring about respectful mediation between the two sides, although he could not guarantee success.

“We are in the grips of a profound disagreement that is tearing our nation apart. This conflict worries me deeply, as it worries many across Israel and the Diaspora,” he said.

“The foundations of Israeli democracy, including the justice system, are sacred and we must strictly safeguard them, even at a time of fundamental arguments and debates about the relationship between the different branches of government.

“I respect everyone who has been arguing and getting involved, protesting and demonstrating, and I appreciate the public engagement in this important debate. I respect the criticism toward me, but I am now focused on two critical roles that I believe I bear as President at this hour: averting a historic constitutional crisis and stopping the continued rift within our nation.

“The Office of the President is perhaps the only place today that enjoys the confidence of all parties and is capable of hosting discussions on the subject in a manner accepted by all—behind closed doors and in open doors.

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“Over the past week, I have been working full time, by every means, making nonstop efforts with the relevant parties, with the aim of creating wide-reaching, attentive, and respectful discussion and dialogue, which I hope will yield results.”

Nevertheless, he conceded, “I humbly admit that I am not certain of this endeavor’s success. There is goodwill from the various parties with whom the responsibility lies, but there is still a long way to go, and significant gaps remain.

“The principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Jewish and democratic contours of our state are my guiding lights, and I will not allow them to be harmed.

“We have a strong and diverse state and society, which have overcome many challenges before.

“I pledge to continue working with all my might, and I hope that we will be able to find the right way to emerge from this difficult crisis, too.”