Ahead of the start of the Tisha B’Av fast mourning the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, President Isaac Herzog laments the increasingly deep slits among Israelis over the government’s judicial overhaul push.
Herzog says he’s “deeply disappointed” after his efforts to bring together the coalition and opposition to negotiate a broad judicial reform agreement broke down, with the coalition passing the first piece of legislation this week in the planned shakeup of the judiciary.
“I warned of this moment,” the president says in a statement, while stressing he’s not willing “to lose hope.”
“If there’s the smallest chance, my team and I will continue to act in all possible ways to lower walls and build bridges,” he adds.
Noting his joint address to US Congress last week, Herzog reiterates his commitment to maintaining democracy in Israel, which he says in the country’s DNA, before appearing to pin the lion’s share of the blame for the failure to reach a compromise on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
“As I’ve previously stressed, the greater responsibility — even if not exclusive — for finding solutions that will benefit the country and society as a whole will always lie with whoever holds the reins of power,” the president says. “That’s how democracy works. I soon expect the [government’s] words of reassurance to turn into actions.”
He appeals to all Israelis to refrain from “violence and irreversible moves,” then addresses reserve soldiers who have stopped showing up for volunteer duty or threatened to do in protest of the overhaul.
“You are truly the best of the best. But at the same time I fear for Israel’s security, which has been harmed by the threats of not volunteering or not appearing for service, and all the more from the fulfillment of those threats,” he says.
He urges the reservists to reconsider and says he trusts them “to defend a stable and safe State of Israel.”