President says Israel in 'national emergency’ as parliament votes on judicial reform

President says Israel in 'national emergency’ as parliament votes on judicial reform

Isaac Herzog calls for compromise on legislation; opposition leader says negotiations collapsed

By Abdelraouf Arnoaut

JERUSALEM (AA) - Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who has called for a compromise on judicial reform legislation, said on Monday that the country "is in a state of national emergency."

“We are working around the clock, in every possible way, to find a solution. The infrastructure for a possible understanding exists, yet gaps remain that require the various parties to show responsibility,” the president said.

The contentious judicial overhaul plan, spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked 29 weeks of mass protests.

Herzog, who held negotiations between the ruling coalition and the opposition in the past hours, asked leaders to “reach an understanding.”

"The citizens of Israel are thirsty for hope and expect responsibility and leadership ... I call on the elected officials to act with courage, and to reach out in order to reach understanding," he tweeted.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, however, said on Twitter that negotiations for a compromise have collapsed.

Lawmakers in the parliament, known as the Knesset, are debating the judicial overhaul ahead of the vote.

The bill would prevent Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, from applying what is known as the "standard of reasonableness" to decisions made by elected officials.

The government says the package is meant to restore power to elected officials, but critics argue it is a power grab by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges and was released from the hospital earlier in the day after an emergency heart procedure.

The judicial overhaul plan has divided Israel, and there has been unprecedented opposition from different circles, including the military and the business sector.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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