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Israeli leaders presented with judicial compromise, president says

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's camp and his political rivals have both been presented with proposals for judicial reform that could end a crisis tormenting Israel for months, the country's president said on Wednesday.

Netanyahu's nationalist-religious coalition in January launched a campaign to overhaul Israel's judiciary, sparking unprecedented protests, sending the shekel down and stirring concern among allies for Israel's democratic health.

President Isaac Herzog did not provide details of the new compromise proposal, saying only that it provides the basis for immediate understandings that will keep Israel "a stable democracy."

"Allow me to expose for a moment what is happening behind closed doors," Herzog said at a memorial speech in Latrun. "This proposal has wide support among the coalition and the opposition," he said. "Now is the time for resolution. Now is the time for a leader's decision."

Herzog's remarks came a day after Israel's Supreme Court held a historic session, convening its entire 15-judge bench for more than 12 hours to hear appeals against a law which curtails some judicial powers that was passed by Netanyahu's coalition in July.

Netanyahu says the judicial changes are meant to balance out branches of government by reining in a court that has become too interventionist.

Opponents see them as harming court independence, inviting corruption and endangering vital democratic checks and balances in a country with no formal constitution and a unicameral parliament largely controlled by coalition governments.

President Joe Biden, who has not met with Netanyahu since the latter took office for a sixth term in late December, has called on the Israeli leader to seek broad agreement on any judicial reforms.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges he denies, has said that he has already scrapped some of the original judicial proposals while he works to reach agreements on reforms. However, opposition leaders have voiced scepticism.

Successive surveys have shown the overhaul to be unpopular among Israelis and Netanyahu's coalition, which won a decisive victory in a November vote, losing an election were it to be held.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by William Maclean)