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Divisions constitute ‘real threat’ to Israel’: President

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published September 26,2023
Israel's President Isaac Herzog delivers a speech during a tribute ceremony at the Halle aux Grains in Toulouse, southern France, on March 20, 2022. (REUTERS File Photo)

Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned Tuesday that divisions over a proposed judicial overhaul constitute a "real threat" to Israeli unity.

"We must learn the lessons and truly understand that the internal threat within Israel is the most acute and dangerous threat of all," Herzog said in a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war between Israel and both Egypt and Syria.

On Monday, clashes erupted between Israelis marking the Yom Kippur holiday, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, over a gender-segregated service.

Herzog described the violence on the most sacred Jewish holiday as "shocking and painful," according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

"The enemies of Israel express themselves about this repeatedly and refer to the internal crisis within us as the beginning of the end of the State of Israel," he said.

The Israeli government and opposition traded accusations over the violence in Tel Aviv.

"Left-wing demonstrators rioted against Jews during their prayer," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "It seems that there are no boundaries, no norms and no limitations on hatred from the extremists on the left."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid, for his part, accused Orthodox nationalist groups of seeking to "bring war" to Tel Aviv's neighborhoods and seeking to impose "only one version of Judaism."

Israel has been in political turmoil in recent months over a government plan to introduce judicial reforms seen by the opposition as a power grab in favor of executive authority.

Netanyahu, however, insists that the reform would enhance democracy and restore the balance among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.