The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada, on Monday welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that the judicial reform legislation would be postponed.
“The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs welcomes today’s decision from Prime Minister Netanyahu to delay the government’s judicial reform legislation. For those of us in the Diaspora, today’s decision is evidence that our faith in the strength of Israel’s democratic system is well placed. This is an example of a truly effective democracy in action,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO of CIJA, in a statement.
“Over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have exercised the most cherished of democratic rights by peacefully protesting a governmental decision for which there is yet no consensus. We’re encouraged that the reaction of the Israeli government not only shows a willingness to listen to the voices of the people but, more importantly, also proves that the power – as it should – remains with the citizens of the country. And, to the extent that our own intervention with Israel’s political leadership on behalf of our community is concerned, we are gratified that Canadian Jews have been heard, and factored into the decision announced today,” he added.
“While calling a country with wide-spread public displays of dissent a “vibrant democracy” may sound counterintuitive, it’s those very protests that make Israel a healthy and productive democracy – one in which peaceful objection is heard, and one in which change is possible. It is our hope that the decision to suspend the judicial reform proposal will allow Israel time to build towards a broad consensus.”
“The government’s decision must be met with a good faith effort on the part of the opposition parties, engaging in a constructive dialogue and ensuring people feel part of the policy process. Israel was founded on the principle of inclusion and must reaffirm those values at every opportunity. While there may not be uniformity around every decision, Canadian Jews must express unity around the existence of Israel and her contributions to the world, and acknowledge healthy debate is part of a continually evolving and growing democracy,” the statement concluded.
In his address to the nation earlier on Monday, Netanyahu said that the judicial reform will not be advanced in the current Knesset session.
"For three months, I have called for dialogue. I also said that I would leave no stone unturned in order to reach a solution. Because I remember, we remember, that we are not facing enemies: we are facing our brothers. I say here and now: we must not have a civil war," he said.
"We are now on a path towards a very dangerous collision in Israeli society, which jeopardizes the basic unity between us, and such a crisis obligates all of us to act responsibly," continued Netanyahu.
"Out of national responsibility, out of a desire to prevent a rift in the nation, I have decided to postpone the second third reading of the law in this session of the Knesset in order to give time to try to reach a wide agreement on the legislation in the next session of the Knesset. This way, we will bring about a reform that will restore the balance which has been lost, while maintaining and even strengthening human and individual rights," he declared.
The Prime Minister said that a majority of his allies in the coalition support the move to freeze the legislation changing the composition of the judicial selection committee. The Otzma Yehudit party had earlier announced that Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir had reached an agreement on the freezing of the legislation.
Netanyahu had reportedly planned to give a public address on Monday morning announcing the freezing of the judicial reform legislation following the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the mass demonstrations which subsequently broke out across the country Sunday night.
He decided to hold off on making a public statement after the Religious Zionist Party issued a statement demanding the immediate passage of legislation altering the Judicial Selection Committee.