Smotrich: We are open to ‘concessions’ on overhaul, but not ‘ultimatums’

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

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference in Jerusalem on September 11, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference in Jerusalem on September 11, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says his Religious Zionism party will agree to some “concessions” to reach judicial compromises, but will not budge on its demand to increase right-wing representation the nation’s top court.

“I told the prime minister that we are ready for dialogue and agreements, including concessions, in order to bring about unity among the people, in order to keep the IDF united and strong, and Israeli society intact,” Smotrich says in a statement in Jerusalem.

“But at the same time, we strongly oppose dictates and ultimatums from those who lost the elections, did not win the trust of the people, and are trying, by threats of refusal [to perform military service] and harm to state security, to dictate their position to us by force,” he continues.

“Under no circumstances will we agree to give up on diversity in the selection of judges in order to represent all the communities in the State of Israel, and we will not agree to a situation in which the opposition, which lost the elections, can trample and run over the right-wing in the Judicial Selection Committee,” the Religious Zionism party head says.

Smotrich, who says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed him of ongoing efforts to reach a broad agreements on judicial reform, says he is in favor of dialogue but will not accept the “anti-democratic ramming” of opposition party “dictates” on change.

“We are making great efforts to lead to honest dialogue, but unfortunately I see how, at the same time, Lapid and Gantz, who blew up the talks at the President’s Residence, prevent any possibility of dialogue, and don’t want agreements — they want to receive 100% of their dictates and we won’t allow that. This is an anti-democratic ramming against the right-wing camp,” the far-right leader says.

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