‘Mother of all demonstrations’: Israelis voted for judicial reform, Netanyahu asserts

The prime minister countered claims by the opposition that the public didn’t realize what it was voting for.

By World Israel News Staff

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv Saturday night against the judicial reform planned by the new Netanyahu government, making headlines around the world and sending a message that Israelis are against this alleged threat to democracy.

Commenting at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning on the mass protest, including smaller rallies in Jerusalem and Haifa, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that the protesters are a minority among Israelis who voted in the November 1st national election.

“Several months ago, there was a huge demonstration, the mother of all demonstrations,” he said. “Millions of people took to the streets to vote in the elections. One of the main topics that they voted on was reforming the judicial system.”

The prime minister also countered claims by the opposition that the public did not know his Likud party’s agenda.

“In recent days, I have heard about an attempt to claim that the public did not know what it was voting for,” he said.

“Then here is a quote, one of many, from my colleagues and me during the election campaign. This is my quote: ‘We will make the necessary changes in the judicial system, prudently and responsibly. We are going to change the system, to save it and not destroy it.’

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“My colleagues and I, most of whom are here around this table, said this countless times, and millions of citizens voted for the right-wing. They knew about the intention to enact a comprehensive reform of the judicial system.

“What’s more,” he continued, “they demanded it from us. Everyone who was at our election rallies, in city centers and in neighborhoods, heard the voices rising from the crowds. There are also many who did not vote for us who knew and agreed that it was necessary to make fundamental changes in the judicial system.

“And indeed, this call has been made over the years, from a long series of government ministers from across the political spectrum, including from the late Tommy Lapid [father of Opposition leader Yair Lapid], the late Yaakov Ne’eman, Chaim Ramon, Daniel Friedman and many others.”

(Tommy Lapid is the father of Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who claims the judicial reform will bring an end to Israeli democracy and has vowed to fight it.)

“Words to this effect have been uttered by both right-wing and left-wing governments, and nobody thought then that it was the ‘end of democracy,’” Netanyahu said. “The truth of the matter is what we are seeking to do will restore the balance between the authorities that existed in Israel for 50 years, and which is maintained today in all western democracies.

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“Therefore,” he said, “there needs to be a substantive, in-depth and serious dialogue in the [Ministerial] Committee on Legislation and in the Knesset, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. We cannot be swept away by inflammatory slogans about civil war and the destruction of the state.”

“I must say,” he added, “that when we were in the opposition, we did not call for civil war and did not speak about the destruction of the state, even when the government made decisions that we vociferously opposed. I expect the leaders of the opposition to do the same.

“I am convinced that following the important and in-depth dialogue in the Knesset, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, we will complete the reform legislation in a way that will correct what is necessary, will fully protect individual rights and restore public confidence in the judicial system, which needs this reform so much.”