Likud MK Boaz Bismuth tells Israel National News that opposition to judicial reform, contrary to what some believe, is not coming from within Likud.
Reflecting on the fact that MK Yuli Edelstein did not vote in favour of some of the changes that are part of the reform, Bismuth comments:
“I'm confident that in the next vote he will come and join us. Let's not forget we're a party and we are also required as a party to vote all together, and the thing that is very important is that Edelstein is by far more experienced than I am in politics and he knows beautifully well that all the right-wing voters in the conservative camp want this reform.”
According to Bismuth, there are no problems with other Likud MKs being against the reforms.
“They believe in the reform and they are confident… It’s not about the content. The reform, they approve of it totally. Maybe the style [is the issue], maybe they wish for more negotiation, but the content is okay.”
On the subject of MKs perhaps wishing for more internal discussions, he believes that negotiations are always a good thing.
“A negotiation never harms anybody in the country. Don’t forget that I’m also willing to negotiate with those who oppose the reform. So of course I'm always willing to speak more and to understand more and to see how can we explain better this reform to those good Israelis who disagree with it. Israel was, and is, and will stay, a democracy.”
When asked whether there is internal criticism in the Likud that the proponents of judicial reform are losing their case in the media and public arena, Bismuth admits they can do a better job of stating their case but emphasizes the bias that exists in the Israeli media.
“The problem is that when you go to Israeli panels, when you go to Israeli media – who also oppose this reform – you always see those who are invited that their prophesy is that Israel is [in danger of] collapsing and chaos and of course dictatorship and totalitarianism – which is absurd. I mean, it’s like a joke,” he says.
“Yet unfortunately we don't see the immense population who approve of the reform, who want the reform. They call us, they send messages, we meet them in the street. Unfortunately, we don't see them in panels.”
He adds that according to the media, anything done by the right-wing is wrong.
“I was interviewed by the media. They said, ‘Oh, listen, I mean how can you make such a reform without having 90 [votes]? Sixty-four is not enough.’ Let’s only remind you the Oslo Accords was 61 votes, meaning one vote they had [and] it was okay. With this we gave back land and more than that, more than a thousands Israelis died. So with all due respect, let’s calm down.”
The Bank of Israel governor spoke with CNN against the reform, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is speaking on global media against the reform. Commenting on the international media blitz, he notes:
“They try to present it as if all communities are against us, like with the tech community, pilots. No, it’s certain [people] within the business. All the people in the economy of Israel. No, it’s certain people in the economy. They try to show as if there is a consensus against the reform, which is totally wrong,” he says.
“Concerning all those people who give us advice, they were not elected on the 1st of November. So with all due respect to those people, who can of course give their opinion, they’re not the ones who determine the decisions of an Israeli government.”
According to Bismuth, the way to respond to claims and fears about the reform is by passing the bill and its opponents seeing afterwards that they overreacted.
“By passing the bill and them seeing afterwards that all they said was totally absurd. I mean nothing in this bill is going to harm either the Israel economy or the balance between institutions and the protection of Israeli citizens. We're bringing the country back to what it was before in the 1990s, and it was a democracy before,” he says.
He tells his friends who come from other democracies around the world to compare the current situation with the judiciary in Israel to their home countries.
“What is being said about this reform, as if we're going towards dictatorship, is totally absurd, and here I use this platform again to tell my friends in the world, we the Likud, though we do not need the approve of the opposition, we're not like them. They did not do it in the Oslo agreement, they did not do it in the Lebanon accord. We tell them, come let's negotiate, and of course we shall come to understandings.”
He addresses the opposition: “Because you yourself, you oppose the reform today, but were the ones that only yesterday waited for reform and were accusing and blaming the Supreme Court. So stop being hypocrites. It's all about politics, it’s not about the reform. It's all about taking down a government that was legally elected on the 1st of November.”