ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Coalition agreements require factions give ‘total preference’ to judicial reforms

Text in deal with UTJ, expected to appear in other accords, says parties should offer full support for legislation ‘to restore proper balance’ between legislature and judiciary

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel Smotrich at the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel Smotrich at the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Coalition agreements between Likud and its partners will require all factions in the incoming government to provide “complete and total preference” to legislation aimed at reforming the judicial system, the draft proposals of the agreements indicate.

“All factions of the coalition will support all bills, including Basic Laws and amendments to Basic Laws, as proposed by the Justice Minister,” Likud’s finalized deal with United Torah Judaism stated, in text that is expected to be copied to the other agreements as well.

It said that legislation aimed at regulating the relationship between the legislature and the judiciary, specifically the High Court, should be prioritized “in order to restore the proper balance” between the two branches of government. Reforming the process of selecting judges was also explicitly mentioned.

The agreement includes a commitment to promoting the so-called override clause, which would allow the Knesset to bypass judicial decisions against recently-passed legislation.

According to Haaretz, an earlier version of the coalition agreements cited only the obligation for parties in the incoming government to support the override clause, excluding the requirement to support legislation endorsed by the justice minister and eliminating any direct reference to the judiciary.

A vote in the plenum session at the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on December 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The earlier version was preferred by incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to avoid public backlash to his government’s planned judicial reforms, Haaretz said.

Unnamed political sources cited in previous reporting by the outlet said Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich had not trusted Netanyahu to stand by his word, and therefore wanted all agreements clearly stated in the coalition deal between the two parties.

The proposed judicial reforms — particularly the override clause — have been denounced by Netanyahu’s political rivals and prominent legal figures.

Israel’s right wing has for years sought to limit the justice system, portraying it as an interventionist and left-leaning roadblock to its legislative agenda. Though he has voiced support for such changes, Netanyahu has in the past avoided moving forward on them.

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