‘NO DELAY OF JUDICIAL REFORM’: Israeli Justice Minister rejects pleas of President Herzog

Despite president’s pleas to suspend changes to legal system, Levin says reforms will proceed as planned.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

President Isaac Herzog pleaded with lawmakers to pause the ongoing effort to reform Israel’s judicial system, with Justice Minister Yariv Levin flatly responding that freezing the move was not an option.

“Stop the whole process for a moment, take a deep breath, allow dialogue to take place, because there is a huge majority of the nation that wants dialogue,” Herzog said during a speech to IDF soldiers on Sunday.

Herzog acknowledged the recent uptick in violent rhetoric against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the judicial reform made by public figures.

“When I see people are threatening to murder the prime minister… it’s a terrible thing that needs to be eliminated and the stain removed,” Herzog said, referring to a statement from a former Israeli Air Force pilot that Netanyahu deserved to be killed.

Police are currently investigating the ex-pilot and a prominent attorney who pledged to “take up arms” in order to stop the “dictatorial” Netanyahu government on suspicion of incitement.

“One mustn’t use these types of expressions in the discussion. The debate is heating up to a dangerous place, and I call from here on all those involved in the disagreement: stop a moment, breathe,” Herzog added.

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But Herzog’s words failed to move Levin, who said in an interview with Channel 13 News that he would not consider stopping the judicial reform legislation for “even for a minute.”

Levin pushed back against a recent statement from Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara that the proposed reforms would endanger Israel’s democracy.

That statement “doesn’t hold water,” Levin told Channel 13 News, adding that attempting to put “spokes in our wheels won’t help.”

Levin also touched upon earlier reports that Baharav-Miara could declare Netanyahu to be seriously compromised over an alleged conflict of interest regarding the legal reform. According to the reportes, she could forbid him from working on matters regarding changes to the judicial system or even force him to step down from office.

“There were elections, and Netanyahu was elected to head the government,” Levin said.

“Asking him to take a leave of absence won’t happen, it’s a threat that won’t happen. There’s no difference between that and pointing tanks at the Prime Minister’s Office.”