Isaac Herzog
Isaac HerzogAmos Ben Gershom/GPO

President Isaac Herzog on Thursday addressed the 2021 Haifa Law Conference, held this year on the theme of governance, sustainability, and law in times of change.

In his speech, Herzog responded to MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) who branded Prime Minister Naftali Bennett a “traitor” earlier this week.

"I am shocked by the thought that today, November 4, a date on which we learned where words can lead (a reference to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin which occurred on November 4, 1995 -ed.) —I need to stand here and say again: the word 'traitor' must be struck out of political discourse, and everywhere! Coalition and opposition, left and right. Accusations of treason imperil our democracy," said Herzog.

"A country where the justice system lacks the public's confidence is a country whose foundations are destabilized. A country where doubts are cast about the integrity of those who sit on the judges' bench is a country on the brink of a dangerous slippery slope," he added.

"The controversies that occasionally erupt between our three branches of government can be a springboard for growth, for improvement, for renewal—not just in our justice system, but in general."

Gafni, in an interview with the haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat, said this week, "I do not know him very well. I did not have too much contact with him both when he was Minister of Education and during his alliance [with Yair Lapid] in 2013. He seemed to me to be a member of the most inferior breed."

"He is not interested in anything. He is an opportunist. He wants to have it written in his biography that he was the Prime Minister. Bennett betrayed his voters and betrayed the State of Israel. There was a left and a right in Israel and he dismantled the right, he took parts of those who voted for the right and he betrayed them and the State of Israel. The State of Israel is democratic. He took right-wing voters, stole their votes and passed to the left. He left those who voted for him outside [the government]."

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid responded to Gafni's remarks and wrote on Twitter, "I call on Moshe Gafni to immediately retract his remarks. Such statements lead Israel to doom."

"We live here together. We have a shared fate. It is possible to disagree, but such talk will lead to dangerous violence," Lapid added.