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Herzog Holds Judicial Reform Talks With Labor, Arab Parties

(JNS) Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosted a second day of talks at his residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday, March 29, meeting with representatives of non-coalition factions in an attempt to find a compromise regarding the government’s judicial reform plan.

The president called for the negotiations after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a national address on Monday night that he was putting the reform effort on hold in order to “provide a real opportunity for real dialogue.”

On Wednesday morning, Herzog met with members of the Knesset’s Arab parties, United Arab List (Ra’am) and Hadash-Ta’al, and in the afternoon with representatives of the Labor Party.

A 90-minute meeting took place on Tuesday involving a negotiating team from Likud, the largest party in the 25th Knesset. Yesh Atid, the second largest party in Israel’s parliament, and National Unity, the third largest party, brought delegations to the table for talks representing the opposition.

Yesh Atid called for the current judicial reform bills to be pulled completely “to start talks on a fresh page,” a non-starter for the coalition.

In response to U.S. President Joe Biden’s call for him to “walk away” from the reform, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that his government remained committed to “strengthening democracy by restoring the proper balance between the three branches of government, which we are striving to achieve via a broad consensus.”

After first rebuffing the President’s call to walk away, Netanyahu declared ties with the United States to be “unshakable,” just a day after he rejected the American president’s intervention into the debate over Jerusalem’s judicial reform initiative.

“Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the alliance between the world’s greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel, in the heart of the Middle East, is unshakable,” said Netanyahu, adding, “I want to thank… President [Joe] Biden who has been a friend for 40 years.”

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