Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Israeli leaders push to override supreme court power

Date: 22.4.18 Source: i24News
There have been a number of pushes recently to constrict the power of Israel’s highest court. 
Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Sunday that he would bring up for a vote next week a new controversial bill that would curb the powers of Israel’s Supreme Court, potentially tipping the governing coalition into another crisis.

The bill would essentially allow the parliament (“Knesset”) to enact a new law even after the High Court invalidates it, by a regular majority vote of 61 Knesset members.

Bennett is additionally seeking to inject the law with ‘Basic Law’ Status--Israel’s version of what may be considered constitutional law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced support for legislation that would require the unanimity of the High Court to overrule Knesset laws, but last week he seemed keen on pushing off the Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote until the Knesset’s summer session.

Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu had been encouraged by the willingness of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to throw his weight behind the bill if modified to require a majority of 70 lawmakers to overrule the High Court’s invalidation of a law by six of the nine judges.

Finance Minister and Kulanu party chief Moshe Kahlon is reportedly opposed to the law, and one of Netanyahu's closest ministers had threatened new elections if their coalition partners refused to vote for it.

The leader of the right-wing Jewish Home Party has sought to advance such legislation in the past with the backing of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, in particular “in the fight against terrorists and the deportation of illegal migrants and, no less important, to limit the excessive power of the court in Israel,” Bennett said referring to the court’s freeze on the deportation plan of African asylum seekers.

“It is for this reason that I informed the prime minister a few weeks ago that the law had to be advanced,” he explained. “However, to my regret, not only has the law that we proposed not been discussed — no alternative has been raised. After years of procrastination, discussions and committees, the time has come to act.”

There have been a number of pushes recently to constrict the power of Israel’s highest court, including a bill supported by the justice minister and her pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi party to limit its jurisdiction in West Bank land disputes.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reportedly told a radio station that the issue is one the government could well go to an election on, if its does not get the full backing of its coalition members.

Earlier this year the coalition whipped back and forth from the brink of an early election over the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox men to the military.

At the time, Netanyahu's political opponents accused of him confecting a crisis so that he could call an election before prosecutors have a chance to indict him in two cases of alleged corruption, which he denies.