Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday swiftly rejected a compromise proposal aimed at resolving a standoff over his plans to overhaul the country's legal system, deepening the crisis over a program that has roiled the country and drawn international criticism. The country's figurehead president, Isaac Herzog, had presented the compromise in a nationally televised address. Herzog, whose ceremonial role is meant to serve as a national unifier and moral compass, unveiled the proposal after more than two months of mass protests against Netanyahu's plan, the AP reports. He suggested that Israel's survival depends on reaching a compromise.
"Anyone who thinks that a real civil war, of human life, is a line that we will not reach has no idea," Herzog said. "The abyss is within touching distance." Still, Netanyahu quickly turned it down. "Unfortunately, the things the president presented were not agreed to by the coalition representatives," Netanyahu said at Israel's main international airport before departing for Germany. "And central elements of the proposal he offered just perpetuate the current situation and don't bring the necessary balance between the branches." Netanyahu's plan would allow parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions and give his parliamentary coalition the final say over all judicial appointments.
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior delegation of Jewish American leaders paid a flash visit to Israel to urge a compromise. The arrival of some 30 leaders from the Jewish Federations of North America marked a rare foray by the American Jewish community into domestic Israeli affairs, per the AP, and reflected concerns that the turmoil in Israel could spill over to Jewish communities overseas. Eric Fingerhut, president and chief executive of the Jewish Federations, said the visit illustrated the "grave concern and worry" the Israeli debate has raised among American Jews. He said the group was unable to meet with Netanyahu but held talks with senior members of Netanyahu's coalition, opposition leaders, and Herzog. He said his group's urged all sides to calm the deeply polarized atmosphere.
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