Citizens of Israel, the serious security incident that became public just a few hours ago is clear proof that our enemies recognize well the primacy of Israeli unity, and are acting accordingly. This is not the only threat.
The last few weeks are tearing us apart. They harm Israel’s economy security, political ties and especially Israeli cohesion. Family Shabbat dinners have become an arena of struggle, friends and neighbors have become rivals. The conflicts are getting worse; the worries, the fears, the anxieties — they are all more tangible than ever.
I want to tell you something from the heart, and I very much hope that it will also penetrate your hearts: I have met thousands of citizens during these weeks inside and outside the President’s residence. Good sons and daughters of the State of Israel. True patriots. From all sides of this dispute. In my life, in my life — in the worst of nightmares, I never thought I would hear such words, even if it is from a very small minority of people. I heard startling rhetoric. I heard real, deep hatred. I heard people from all sides — that God forbid the idea of blood in the streets no longer shocks them.
I’m going to use a phrase I haven’t used before. An expression that no Israeli is not horrified by when he hears it. Those who think that a civil war is something that we could not reach, have no idea. Precisely now — in the seventy-fifth year of the State of Israel — the abyss is within touching distance. I tell you today what I told them: a civil war is a red line! I won’t let that happen! At any price. In any way. The IDF must be out of bounds. Out of all political controversy, and so is any kind of refusal to serve. We are in the midst of a deep crisis. But I truly believe with all my heart that today we also face a great, historic opportunity. An opportunity for a balanced, wise and agreed upon constitutional arrangement of the relationship between the branches in our Jewish and democratic country. In our beloved country. We are at a crossroads: a historical crisis or a defining constitutional moment.
In recent months I have often stated that structural changes are necessary in the relationship between government branches in Israel. I firmly stand behind this statement. This will be for the good of the citizens, and this will be for the good of the country. But a fundamental and profound change in the relationship between the governing branches must be made with common sense, to ensure that it brings blessing and good to the greatest number of people, to the widest possible common denominator. Such a common denominator should reflect a wide range of identities, beliefs and worldviews, from all the shades of the Israeli mosaic, including minority communities. Although complete and absolute agreement is not achievable, broad agreement on basic constitutional issues is the right thing at this critical moment. Israeli democracy is the soul of our nation and we must guard it with all vigilance. Its solid foundations, which are in line with the world of Jewish world values, bind us all.
Our sources command us to pursue two things: justice and peace. “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” “Seek peace and pursue it.” In the last few weeks, when I worked on an agreement outline, I pursued with all my might, day and night — justice and peace. I talked to a very wide spectrum of leaders and citizens. People from every avenues, shade and identity, from every position. Thousands of people. I didn’t overlook any group. All of them were given a place — not only to have a voice but also to have a real impact. One of the things I learned, and not surprisingly, is how big the scope of agreement is. How big the scope of agreement is.
The majority of Israeli citizens want a directive that will bring both justice and peace. The majority of Israeli citizens want a balanced outline that will once and for all regulate the relations between the governing branches in Israel. The majority of Israeli citizens want broad consensus. The majority of Israel, the citizens of Israel, want to live a safe and good life.
The outline that I am presenting today is a golden path, which brings together the perceptions, beliefs, concerns and fears in a proper, decent, balanced and constructive manner. It reflects the space of agreement and the greatest common denominator. This is not the president’s directive, it is the people’s directive. I have already said: if only one side wins — the State of Israel will lose. In this directive there is no winning side and no losing side. It is an outline that is all about the victory of the citizens of Israel. The place of legislative proceedings is in the Knesset, so it is important to emphasize in continuing my speech from last Thursday that the outline should form the basis for new legislation that will replace the existing proposal, principles, as a basis for an in-depth, proper and correct discussion to be decided in the Knesset.
This directive strengthens the Knesset, strengthens the government, strengthens the judicial system, and above all strengthens the State of Israel. This outline protects each and every one of you — citizens of Israel. This directive preserves the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This is not a political compromise on this and that clause. This is not a move for or against the initiators of the legislation or the members of the coalition, just as it is not a move that has an hidden intention to strengthen or weaken the opponents of the legislation and the members of the opposition. The only thing — the only thing! — that stands before my eyes is the good of our people. The benefit of our national home. The benefit of our great love — the State of Israel.
The directive addresses the important need to diversify the judicial system so that, among other things, the multiple voices of the people of Israel will be part of it and see it as their home; and it obliges the legal system to make necessary changes whose time has come. The proposed outline anchors a decent and balanced relationship between the branches, which allows each branch to fulfill its role, and to operate within the limits of its jurisdiction without unusual interference from another branch. The directive is fully committed to the principles of the Declaration of Independence; it fortifies the independence of the judicial system and its independency; and establishes human and citizen rights, both men and women alike, including those minorities in Israel.
As I promised you, I am publishing tonight the directive that I formulated. The directive is detailed and thorough and should be read in its entirety. That is why I invite you — the leadership and the leaders, the parties and the entire public — to read and study it in depth on the dedicated website called “Mitve Haam,” as well as on my pages on social networks. [https://www.mitve-haam.org/_files/ugd/f35a26_8eb0f820ae1b4d32bd178cc2b7cf4352.pdf]
I speak here out of respect for all sides in the debate. In my eyes, they are all patriots who love the people and the country. And precisely because of this — it is everyone’s duty to understand the hour is upon us. The country must not be destroyed. I did not come to my position to please everyone or anyone. And I didn’t get into the middle of this controversy to please everyone or anyone. The question is whether they are looking to overthrow a state on each detail or do they all demonstrate national responsibility.
I am a person of faith, but I am not naive. I know that as soon as I finish speaking, and maybe even before that, opponents will arise from here and there. I also know that there will be those who will run from responsibility, and that there will be those who have already agreed but will suddenly deny any connection, or try to retract. I am telling you with responsibility, I look at you in the eyes: the People’s Directive reflects a broad, vast common denominator. And a huge longing among the people for a common outline. The people want an agreed solution, our country needs an agreed solution, and it needs it now.
The outline that you will see on the “Mitve Haam” website takes advantage of this defining moment, and sets in motion a historic, ensnaring, and ground-breaking action that continues the rising work of our founding generation, and finally gets us out of the terrible dance of demons that we are in now for a rare constitutional moment.
Citizens of Israel, my sisters and brothers, the People’s Directive is being uploaded to a website at this very moment and will be sent to elected officials and all my friends. The responsibility lies with them, and it is a heavy responsibility. If they want — they will discuss it, if they want — they will continue in all-out war. You have an important role. A critical and fateful role — for us as a people and as a country. I believe that this directive — the People’s Directive — can and should bring us both things: justice and peace.
Dear citizens of Israel: I believe in us, in each and every one of us in this amazing Israeli mosaic. Let’s take this step. Let’s do it together, with the justice and peace that is in us.