United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Pindrus, filling in as chairman of the parliamentary panel that’s readying a coalition bill to curb the judiciary’s oversight powers, called Tuesday for the dismissal of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who has drawn the government’s ire for opposing its far-reaching efforts to rein in the courts.
As Knesset members on the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee further deliberated a proposal to completely block courts from exercising judicial review over the “reasonableness” of government decisions, Pindrus was asked by Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar under what scenario he’d be okay with firing the attorney general without cause.
“I would immediately dismiss an attorney general appointed by another government,” he said.
Pindrus said that Baharav-Miara was appointed by Netanyahu’s “number one enemy,” referring to former justice minister Gideon Sa’ar, a statement met with heckles from opposition figures. The UTJ lawmaker then amended his description of Sa’ar, a longtime member of the ruling Likud party before breaking with the premier in late 2020, to call him Netanyahu’s “number one political rival.”
He also sought to liken Sa’ar’s appointment of Baharav-Miara to a purely theoretical situation in which former US president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could rule on incumbent Joe Biden’s fitness for office.
“In what country would that be acceptable except for this deranged country?” Pindrus said.
Numerous coalition lawmakers have called for Baharav-Miara to be canned, including members of Likud. Netanyahu has previously said he has no intention of firing her.
At Monday’s meeting, one of Baharav-Miara’s deputies heavily criticized the bill to bar the High Court from using the “reasonableness” doctrine to scrutinize government decisions, warning that the proposed legislation creates a legal “black hole” and “seriously harms basic democratic values.”
Reasonableness has been the primary judicial check against appointments, and was used earlier this year to remove Shas leader Aryeh Deri from twin cabinet postings — as minister of health and the interior — citing his recent tax offenses and past bribery conviction, and his commitment to quit the Knesset as part of a plea bargain.
The bill was prioritized by the coalition shortly after opposition lawmakers withdrew from judicial reform compromise talks following a stymied election of MKs to the Judicial Selection Committee earlier this month. Opposition lawmakers have warned that without the reasonableness protection, the government would be able to fire the attorney general and appoint personal cronies in her place.
During the committee hearing, Pindrus also clashed with opposition MKs over his statement last week that the LGBTQ community is a greater threat to Israel than Islamist terror groups committed to the Jewish state’s destruction.
“The person heading this meeting is devaluing my blood,” said Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzano, who is gay.