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Healing Israel's Deepening Political Divide Will Take 'Very Long Time,' Says Ex-Official

© AFP 2023 / Jalaa MareyProtesters gather during a rally against the government's controversial judicial overhaul bill in Haifa, Israel on March 18, 2023.
Protesters gather during a rally against the government's controversial judicial overhaul bill in Haifa, Israel on March 18, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.03.2023
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Healing the deepening political divide in Israel is possible if both sides show flexibility, but the process will take an extremely long time, Dan Arbell, a former diplomat who worked in Israel's Foreign Service for 25 years, told Sputnik.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir agreed that the adoption of a controversial judicial reform should be postponed to the Knesset's summer session amid mass demonstrations in the country.
"Political and societal divides have deepened and healing them may be possible but will take a very long time, if both sides demonstrate an open mind, seriousness and flexibility," Arbell, who served as Israel's deputy chief of mission in Washington, among other posts, said.
However, Arbell said he expects Netanyahu's suspension of the proposed overhaul plan to be temporary.
"Netanyahu has no real intention of abandoning his plan," Arbell.
The United States, he added, is encouraging the parties to reach a compromise, but Washington will not be directly involved in the dialogue.
In January, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin rolled out a legal reform package that would limit the authority of the Supreme Court by giving the cabinet control over the selection of new judges, as well as allowing the Knesset to override the court's rulings with an absolute majority.
The reform's opponents argue it will undermine democracy in Israel and put the country on the verge of a social and constitutional crisis.
Protests against the reform have been held in Israel for 12 straight weeks, escalating late Sunday night after the prime minister dismissed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over his opposition to the judicial reform.
Arbell is now a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israeli Studies at American University.
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