The Knesset’s 74th birthday may be its last if the coalition goes through with its plans to weaken the country’s judicial system, opposition leader MK Yair Lapid said during a special plenum session marking 74 years since the legislature’s founding, as well as the Tu Bishvat holiday.
“The price of the legislation that you are leading now is not just erasing democracy, it is the painful destruction of our joint existence. We are one nation, one family, and it is tearing us apart.
“This house for 74 years symbolized our ability to live together. The ability to overcome every hurdle. The idea that we struggle and there is always one side that wins, but the other side does not disappear, it has a place and a voice. This house symbolized the fact that we are different but that there is a common good.
“For the first time in my life, I am concerned that it won’t survive. If the government completes the legislative process it began, it will be irreparable. The fracture will be too deep. Already now, more and more people are saying to themselves that we are no longer one people. That their country has given up on them,” Lapid said.
Lapid’s comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the Knesset was the only true representative of the people, and that the winning side in an election had the right to carry out its policies.
“Losing is not easy, but in democracy there is no other way. You have to know how to accept the verdict of the voter and lose with dignity,” Netanyahu said.
“Many things can and should be debated, but there is one thing that cannot be debated, and that is sedition to violence and calling for murder. This is crossing a redline. Democracy is the rule of the majority, not the rule of the gun,” he added.
“Let’s lower the level of the flames, let’s avoid violence and avoid extreme rhetoric – we will have a serious and deep discussion in a democratic way, neither with violence nor with incitement to murder,” the prime minister added, referring to calls for violence over the past few days by people who opposed him.
Chief Justice Esther Hayut did not attend a ceremonial meeting of Israel’s “symbol of power” prior to the plenum, which included President Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and Lapid.
Hayut did not issue an official reason for her absence, but it was widely reported as coming due to the tension between her institution and the Knesset over the coalition’s proposed judicial reform.
Earlier on Monday, National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz said to the press ahead of his party’s weekly meeting that “if the race to a coup d’état continues, we will also use our right to strike – and masses of civilians will bring the country to a standstill.”
Gantz condemned calls to take up arms and other inciting comments from the past week, and encouraged the public instead to protest in every way that the law allows – in the Knesset, in the streets and elsewhere.
The former defense minister repeated his call for dialogue with the coalition, arguing that the coalition was continuing at full speed and brushing aside all attempts at compromise while putting on a show that real debate was happening in the Knesset Constitution Committee.
“Agreed upon reform – yes. Coup d’état – no,” Gantz said.
Smotrich addresses the same issue as Gantz
Minutes later, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich addressed the same issue ahead of his Religious Zionist Party meeting.
“We support dialogue and support examining and hearing different angles and ideas, but we will not agree to grant veto power over the legislative process,” Smotrich said.
Lapid and the rest of the opposition’s “irresponsible” conduct, arguing that a direct line ran between this conduct and inciting comments over the last week, including the call to take up arms and a call to assassinate the prime minister.
“He who does not know how to stay within the lines in a legitimate democratic protest and crosses them, in the end leads to the fact that more and more people, not just from the fringes, come and support severe incitement and direct calls for murder. It all begins from the top,” the finance minister said.
The Tribulation is commencing..
Please repent, carry your cross daily and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ’s Death on the Cross for payment for your sins.
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