Israeli PM Netanyahu says he is working to achieve consensus on judicial legislation

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said efforts to reach consensus on a judicial overhaul bill were ongoing ahead of its expected approval by parliament next week after the law sparked protests and outrage at home and abroad.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on Monday on the first part of the overhaul, the so-called “reasonableness” bill, which, if passed, would block the Supreme Court from voiding decisions or appointments made by the government which it deems “unreasonable.”

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Prominent opposition leader Benny Gantz called on Wednesday for compromise talks facilitated by the Israeli president.

“Even in these moments... efforts are being made to achieve consensus,” Netanyahu said in an address to the press.

“I truly hope these efforts will succeed but even if they don’t, the coalition’s door will remain open always,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli protesters blocked roads and public transportation in a mass day of disruption on Tuesday, as business leaders, medical professionals, academics and military reservists voiced their opposition to the planned legislation, which would see the highest court stripped of much of its power.

Proponents of the legislation say it would restore balance to the branches of government while those against say it removes vital checks and balances.

Netanyahu said Israel “would continue to be a democracy,” and said statements by hundreds of reservists that they would refuse voluntary service if the overhaul passes were harmful to the country.

“What will endanger democracy is refusal to serve in the military,” Netanyahu said. “We cannot tolerate that and we won’t tolerate that.”

“Israel will continue to be a democratic country, will continue to be a liberal country,” Netanyahu said. “It will protect everyone’s individual rights but when I say everyone these rights really must be equal for everyone.”

Protesters again took to the streets across the country on Thursday as two major roads were blocked in Tel Aviv.

“To put it plainly, he’s the biggest liar ever so we don’t trust a word he says,” said Irit Edri, a 50 year-old a lawyer at a protest in Tel Aviv. “He is calling for talks or whatever just because it serves him.”

“We’ve been there so many times, we don’t buy this anymore we need to stop this legislation completely,” Edri said.

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