CIJA: Canadian Jews welcome decision to delay controversial Israeli Judicial Reform Bill

(OTTAWA, ON – March 27, 2023) – This evening (local time) in Jerusalem, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that the controversial judicial reform legislation would be postponed, allowing for more time for dialogue on the proposals and a negotiated consensus.

This announcement follows weeks of protests across the nation and around the globe, which, today, led to an unprecedented general strike involving shutdowns of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Ben-Gurion Airport. In Canada, the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa and Israel’s Consular offices in Toronto and Montreal followed the civil servants labour union’s instructions to close all missions abroad.

In response to Netanyahu’s postponement, Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, issued the following statement:

“The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs welcomes today’s decision from Prime Minister Netanyahu to delay the government’s judicial reform legislation. For those of us in the Diaspora, today’s decision is evidence that our faith in the strength of Israel’s democratic system is well placed. This is an example of a truly effective democracy in action.

“Over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have exercised the most cherished of democratic rights by peacefully protesting a governmental decision for which there is yet no consensus. We’re encouraged that the reaction of the Israeli government not only shows a willingness to listen to the voices of the people but, more importantly, also proves that the power – as it should – remains with the citizens of the country. And, to the extent that our own intervention with Israel’s political leadership on behalf of our community is concerned, we are gratified that Canadian Jews have been heard, and factored into the decision announced today.

“While calling a country with wide-spread public displays of dissent a “vibrant democracy” may sound counterintuitive, it’s those very protests that make Israel a healthy and productive democracy – one in which peaceful objection is heard, and one in which change is possible. It is our hope that the decision to suspend the judicial reform proposal will allow Israel time to build towards a broad consensus.

“The government’s decision must be met with a good faith effort on the part of the opposition parties, engaging in a constructive dialogue and ensuring people feel part of the policy process. Israel was founded on the principle of inclusion and must reaffirm those values at every opportunity. While there may not be uniformity around every decision, Canadian Jews must express unity around the existence of Israel and her contributions to the world, and acknowledge healthy debate is part of a continually evolving and growing democracy.”

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