Almost 100 prominent UK Jews voice ‘profound concern’ about overhaul, welcome pause

Almost 100 prominent British Jews sent an open letter to Israeli leaders on Wednesday expressing “deep concern” about the government’s attempt to reform the justice system and welcoming the legislative break announced this week to allow dialogue with the opposition.

The letter, sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog – who is engaged in reconciliation negotiations – came four days after the capital concluded a visit to the United Kingdom, in which hundreds of Israelis and Jews demonstrated against him and UK Prime Minister Rishi. Sunak emphasized the importance of “democratic values.”

Israel’s attorney general has warned that the legislative package — which would give the coalition almost total control over all judicial appointments, and would radically restrict the High Court — would give the government almost unfettered power, without providing any institutional safeguards for the rights of the individual or for the rights of Israel. democratic character.

98 British Jews signed a letter on Wednesday, including former Supreme Court president Lord David Neuberger, former Supreme Court judge Lord John Dyson, former politician Lord Michael Levy, former MP Luciana Berger, philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, prominent businessman Jonathan Goldstein and former journalist and politician Lord Daniel Finkelstein.

“As British Jews, and as supporters of a secure, democratic Israel, we express our deep concern and opposition” to the legislation that the government has been pushing for the past three months, the letter said.

“We also express our deep concern about the unnecessary and growing division in society that this process has created,” they said.

They praised the break announced by Netanyahu on Monday and said they “encourage those from all parties to use the coming days and weeks to find a way forward so that those from all parties ensure that the appointment of judges remains free from political pressure and that judicial scrutiny is protected for the benefit of all citizens of Israel, whether Jewish, Arab, religious or secular.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 10 Downing Street in London, March 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Netanyahu’s visit to Britain last weekend was largely dominated by the issue of law reform and the protests against Netanyahu, whose meeting on Friday with Sunak appeared to be toned down and in an unusual move, there was no public address of any kind from the two leaders. .

While the Israeli readout of the meeting did not mention anything about the judicial overhaul that is dominating headlines about Israel around the world, the British readout noted that Sunak stressed to Netanyahu “the importance of upholding democratic values which is the basis of our relationship, including in the judicial reforms proposed in Israel.”

The statement from 10 Downing Street also highlighted “international concern about escalating tensions in the West Bank,” and encouraged “all efforts to de-escalate, particularly ahead of the upcoming religious holidays.”

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