In a powerful statement, the World Zionist Congress has warned Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora is at stake over judicial overhaul; 60% of Americans think overhaul should change US policy towards Israel.
The World Zionist Congress voted on Tuesday against the religious-Right agenda of Israel’s current government.
In effect, the so-called “parliament of the Jewish” people declared that Diaspora Jews do not support key policies being promoted by the Jewish state, under the most Right-wing and religious government in its history.
The WZC voted in favour of a resolution urging the Israeli government to refrain from implementing its planned judicial overhaul. Drafted by one of the progressive factions in the congress, this resolution warns that the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora “is at stake if the government pursues its plans to weaken the judiciary”.
“The Zionist Congress believes that change in the State of Israel’s judicial structure can only happen through broad public agreement, as the outcome of the true and open dialogue and as part of a process of healing social rifts across all of Israeli society,” the resolution says. It was submitted by Arzenu, the political representation of the Reform movement in the congress.
“The Zionist Congress calls upon the government to reach consensus agreements that will bolster the democratic nature of the State of Israel and the checks and balances in the structure of government, while providing protection for human rights, minorities and women.”
The resolution was passed by a vote of 368 in favour and 262 against.
Opposition to Israel’s government is flowing through to attitudes to US foreign policy by the American public.
Most Americans think that Washington should reassess its ties with Israel if Jerusalem passes a controversial, drastic overhaul of the judiciary, according to a survey that examined opinions in both counties on the ties between them.
According to the poll, presented at the Herzliya conference by Amnon Cavari of The Institute for Liberty and Responsibility at Reichman University on Monday, 60% of Americans back a re-evaluation of the bilateral relationship if the overhaul is legislated.
A similar number said the US should critique Israel over the plan, though there were sharp divisions between Republicans and Democrats on the issue, with 70% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans supporting criticising Israel.
The Gallup poll found that while most Israelis accept that Jerusalem should take into consideration Washington’s opinion on some matters, that does not extend to all issues, including military operations.
Bucking speculation that he may attempt to quietly bury the judicial overhaul plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that that the issue will return to the agenda now the budget has passed.
The government remains in talks with the opposition over a possible compromise.
The plan was put on hold before Pesach after Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s refused to agree to an overhaul which was dividing Israel. Gantz’s position spurred massive demonstrations in support of withdrawing the plan and forced Netanyahu to agree to compromise talks.
Haaretz reported this week that the government and opposition are nearing their first compromise amid ongoing negotiations over the judicial overhaul plan.
According to Haaretz, the deal being negotiated would require the government to convene the Judicial Appointments Committee in its current format, with a mixture of government lawmakers, opposition members and court justices. The appointments committee has been one of the judicial overhaul’s high-profile targets.
But the Times of Israel’s sources said no deal was imminent.
Top U.S. human rights envoy urges Israel to ensure unrestricted NGO operations without financial or legal impediments. Netanyahu dropped a similar bill under Obama administration pressure in 2016.
Photo: World Zionist Congress leaders and delegates protest Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul in a march to the Israeli Supreme Court earlier this year. (Gili Getz)