Lapid refuses to meet with judicial reform lawmakers without preconditions

Justice Minister Levin and chief reform architect Rothman said they were “saddened” by Lapid’s refusal to sit and talk.

By World Israel News Staff

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has rejected an offer by masterminds behind the government’s plan for judicial reform to meet at Isaac Herzog’s office to discuss a compromise put forward by the president, saying there needed to be a complete halt to the legislation first.

“As the president stressed yesterday and as explained over and over, the first condition to start a national dialogue is the immediate cessation of all legislation processes for a designated period of time, during which talks will be held with the president’s mediation,” Lapid said in a statement.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chair, MK Simcha Rothman, said they were “saddened” by Lapid’s rejection.

“We were very saddened to read to opposition leader’s statement, which signals that his only motivation is to stop the legislation and not to hold genuine dialogue,” Levin and Rothman said in a joint statement.

“We would be happy to meet as early as tonight with any opposition official who’s interested in dialogue,” they added, in a possible reference to National Unity party chief Benny Gantz who has yet to issue a response to their invitation.

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Lapid in return said that Levin and Rothman’s invitation was insincere.

If they were serious, he said, “they would have agreed to halt the legislation until the end of the talks, and perhaps would have also made the effort to update the president and me of their proposal ahead of time, instead of us hearing about it through the media.”

Protest groups behind the mass demonstrations outside the Knesset and several Israeli cities on Monday had pressured Lapid and other opposition leaders not to agree to conduct a dialogue with coalition MKs over the matter.

Rothman earlier in the day said he “welcomed the president’s initiative to hold real talks” and would be “happy to sit, without any delay, through the mediation of the president and wherever he chooses, with any representative of the opposition who wishes to do so” – but without any “preconditions,” such as delaying the legislative process.

Footage from the committee meeting Monday morning showed opposition members banging on the table and shouting “Shame on you!” and “Dictator!” at Rothman. The commotion became so unruly that 17 Knesset members were thrown out of the room, but they and others congregated at the door and continued shouting.

When order was restored, the coalition passed several judicial reforms by a 9-7 vote, including disallowing the Supreme Court to reject the validity of Basic Laws passed in the Knesset and changing the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee so that coalition members are in the majority.