MK Boaz Bismuth (Likud) explained in an interview with Israel National News on Wednesday his decision to vote in favor of the softened version of the judicial reform, despite the fact that he opposed it at the beginning.
The new proposal, which the Likud faction approved on Monday, stipulates that the Judicial Selection Committee will include 11 members instead of nine as is the case today, and that six out of the eleven will come from coalition parties – three ministers and three Knesset members.
The remaining five members will be two opposition Knesset members and three judges, one of whom is the President of the Supreme Court.
For appointments to the Supreme Court, the other two justices would also be Supreme Court judges, but for lower courts, the two would be replaced by a district court president and a magistrate’s court president. Appointments for lower courts will require a majority of seven out of eleven, while appointments for the Supreme Court would require a simple majority of six.
The coalition will only be able to select two Supreme Court justices per term without the approval of the opposition. A third appointment in a given Knesset term would require the approval of an opposition MK, and a fourth appointment would also require the approval of one of the judges.
"I voted in favor because I want unity among the people. My friends and I in the Likud are advocates of the reform, but first and foremost are advocates of unity among the people. Beyond that, the softening itself does not take the wind out of the sails of the reform. The softening did not touch our principles," Bismuth told Israel National News.
"We had the ability, in a fully right-wing government, to determine who will be the four judges who will be elected in the next two years, but I am calling for unity among the people, to compromise with the opposition and to calm those who are concerned," added Bismuth.
"We are a country that is fighting for its right to exist on many fronts. We are programmed for wars against external enemies, but not for civil wars. In such wars, God forbid they happen, everyone loses. That is why the softened outline is good for everyone and I expect my friends in the opposition to show responsibility."
Bismuth rejected the claim that the leaders of the opposition have no influence over the protesters who are demonstrating against the reform, saying, "They have an influence, and certainly after the Likud faction independently passes this very essential softening that comes from good intentions."
He commented on the plans by opponents of the judicial reform to hold a mass demonstration in the city of Bnei Brak on Thursday, which will include a march inside the city. Last week, hundreds of anti-government protesters arrived in Bnei Brak, where they set up a mock recruiting office. Others attempted to reach the street where MK Moshe Gafni, one of the heads of the United Torah Judaism Party, lives, but police prevented them from doing so.
Protesters also headed to the municipality building where they blocked the entrance with barbed wire. Police later removed them.
"What bothers me in this protest is that populations are being categorized. We are brothers and I really hope we get over this event. The big challenge which lies ahead of us is passing the reform and staying united and loving," said Bismuth.
"This reform must pass because it is no longer about the reform itself. There are good Israelis among the protesters, some of whom do not understand what it is about, some of whom received distorted information and will see it for themselves, and there are also those who do not accept the results of the elections. It particularly saddens me to see a former Prime Minister, former Chief of Staff and former Air Force Commander and other protest leaders who conduct themselves in such a manner. They legitimize refusal to serve and taking money out of the country and tarnishing the country abroad, all because they refuse to accept the will of the voter. All these things are wrong in my eyes. We are brothers and we will remain brothers," he concluded.