Yair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu
Yair Lapid and Benjamin NetanyahuReuters

The Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday published an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid, calling on them to “fully embrace” President Isaac Herzog’s calls for negotiations between the coalition and the opposition on the judicial reform.

The letter also warns against the so-called “Override Clause”, an amendment to the country’s Basic Laws which would explicitly empower the Knesset to veto Supreme Court rulings overturning Knesset laws.

“The Jewish Federations of North America have a deep and abiding love for the State of Israel. We rejoice at its growth and accomplishments, we pray for its safety and success, and we have, from long before the birth of the state to this very day, done everything within our ability to assist its government and people. Our support for the State of Israel is unconditional and eternal,” says the letter, which was posted on the Jewish Federations’ website.

The Jewish leaders add that they “have been following closely the increasingly acrimonious debate over the governing coalition’s proposals to make fundamental changes in the relationship between the Knesset and the Supreme Court, especially the proposal to allow the Knesset to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court with a bare majority vote.”

The leaders note that they wrote the letter for two reasons: “First, we urge you each to fully embrace the proposals set forth by the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, to set a course for the consideration and resolution of these issues. President Herzog has the respect and admiration of Jews around the world, as do both of you. Whatever the final resolution of these issues, this process will ensure that the views of all stakeholders are fully considered.”

“Second, we urge you to make clear that a majority of just sixty one votes of the Knesset is not sufficient to override a decision of the Supreme Court. The essence of democracy is both majority rule and protection of minority rights. We recognize that any system of checks and balances will be different than those in our own countries, but such a dramatic change to the Israeli system of governance will have far-reaching consequences in North America, both within the Jewish community and in the broader society,” the letter adds.

Herzog last week gave a speech in which he reiterated his call on the Netanyahu government and the opposition to reach a compromise on the proposed judicial reform plan.

Herzog acknowledged the need for judicial reform, emphasizing the independence of the Israeli legislature, while also calling for greater ethnic diversity in the judiciary.

At the same time, the President called on the Netanyahu government not to move forward with its plans to bring part of the reform plan to a vote in the Knesset committee. Instead, Herzog urged the government to work towards reaching a compromise with the opposition, enabling passage of a more moderate reform plan.

Thus far, the opposition has refused to negotiate with the government as long as it continues the legislative process of the judicial reform.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu issued another call for dialogue and negotiation. Lapid responded to Netanyahu by accusing him of lying.