The president's good intentions have caused immense harm

AuthorAvishai Grinzaig
Published date16 March 2023
Publication titleGlobes (Rishon LeZion, Israel)
How much arrogance and conceit is required to present a far-reaching constitutional proposal without the support of the coalition, without consultation with the opposition, without the involvement of the president of the Supreme Court or of the attorney general, and call it "The People's Plan"

I may have picked on a marginal detail, but the truth is that this anecdotal detail tells the whole story.

Isaac Herzog, apparently with good intentions, has done immense damage to the ability of the sides to reach a compromise. The moment that the president of the state in his own person presents "The People's Plan" at 8:30 pm in front of the entire nation and warns of civil war if the plan is not adopted, the chances of a compromise being reached fall dramatically.

The opposition parties announced their support for the plan, some of them explicitly like the National Unity Party, some obliquely, like Yesh Atid, and some with a silent wink. The plan is so good for them that they didn't even bother with a "the sky is falling" campaign about how bad and biased it is in order to try to gain a few more achievements.

A pretentious plan

Now to the substance: this pretentious plan states that "the arrangements stipulated in this plan are all of a piece. The plan has been constructed with a view to the system of checks and balances that should be maintained between the branches of government, and should be seen as a whole. That is to say, no part of this document stands alone, but is rather dependent on the rest of the parts of the document."

In other words, no cherry picking of just certain parts of it.

The root problem of "The People's Plan" in my view is that it is written like a seminar paper or the proposal of a research and policy institute. Herzog completely ignores the political reality in which one side won an election and has 64 Knesset seats, and wants to implement its policies.

Even if the winning side wants to compromise, and it ought to compromise, it's impossible to present a plan that is completely oblivious to the election result and expect the coalition to adopt it. No wonder, then, that the coalition, with one voice and one mind, ruled out the plan, while the opposition welcomed it.

The basic laws problem

Let's look at the question of "basic laws". According to Herzog's proposal, a basic law requires a majority of 61 Knesset members in three readings, and then a majority of 80 in a fourth reading, or of 70 if the fourth reading takes place in the next...

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