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Israel: opposition leaders refuse to talk with Netanyahu

March 7, 2023 at 11:22 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem [MENAHEM KAHANA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli opposition leaders refused on Monday to hold any talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the judicial overhaul until and unless it is stopped, local media have reported.

“All our outreach for the sake of Israeli unity has been met with rejection and refusal,” said opposition leader Yair Lapid and National Unity Party chief Benny Gantz in a joint statement. “Israel stands at the threshold of a national emergency, and Netanyahu refuses to stop.”

The two opposition figures said that they “greatly respect and appreciate” the efforts of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to broker talks and agreements. “However, in order to hold honest and effective negotiations… Netanyahu must announce a complete, comprehensive and genuine halt to the legislative process. All attempts at shortcuts fly in the face of real dialogue.”

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Herzog told a gathering of some 100 municipal officials on Monday that a compromise judicial reform proposal was nearly complete. He called on lawmakers to find common ground.

“In the past few weeks, I have done everything in my power to bring about a discussion and enable the sides to reach an agreement,” said the Israeli president. “We are closer than ever to the possibility of an outline. There are agreements behind the scenes on most things.”

Now, added Herzog, it depends on Israel’s national leadership, the coalition and the opposition. “They need to rise to the occasion and understand the terrible alternative and put the country and its citizens above everything else.”

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