ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Lapid refuses to comment on reports of backdoor negotiations with the government

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Opposition leader Yair Lapid holds a press conference about the state budget in Tel Aviv, May 16, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Opposition leader Yair Lapid holds a press conference about the state budget in Tel Aviv, May 16, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid declines to confirm reports about closed-door negotiations at the President’s Residence, instead saying that his first priority is placing an opposition lawmaker on the panel that picks Israel’s judges.

“The order of things is backward,” Lapid says in response to reporter questions at the opening of his Yesh Atid party’s Knesset faction meeting.

Lapid says he first wants to place an opposition MK to the Judicial Selection Committee in an election expected next week, “then we’ll see what happens” about coming to agreements with the coalition on its plan to remake judicial power.

Earlier today, Hebrew-language media reported that the coalition is offering the opposition a one-year freeze on the judicial legislation in exchange for changing the authority of government legal advisers and judges’ powers to rule on reasonableness.

For over five months, the debate over overhauling the judiciary has consumed the country, and on Sunday, one of the coalition’s pro-reform champions, MK Simcha Rothman, was driven from an event at Tel Aviv University by anti-shakeup protesters. Rothman has denounced their behavior.

“Rothman was not attacked. They protested against him,” Lapid says.

“He should stop whining,” the opposition leader adds, saying that Rothman was treated better than how the coalition treated Lapid’s government last year, before the Netanyahu government took power.

Lapid also attacks the government’s plan to approve a resolution instantiating Zionism and Torah study as strategic values, as it would allow the government to preferentially distribute resources to Jewish citizens.

“According to this law, a Jew that shirks army services gets more” than a Druze veteran, Lapid says.

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