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Incoming Likud MK says she intends to ignore High Court rulings

Tally Gotliv, aiming for chair of Knesset judicial committee, claims court has no authority to strike down legislation, echoing claims by others in presumptive coalition

Incoming Likud MK Tali Gottlieb seen during an interview with the Ynet news site, November 8, 2022. (Ynet)
Incoming Likud MK Tali Gottlieb seen during an interview with the Ynet news site, November 8, 2022. (Ynet)

An attorney set to enter the Knesset with the Likud party next week says she intends to ignore rulings from the High Court of Justice striking down legislation, claiming Israel’s highest court lacks the authority to do so.

Tally Gotliv, a freshman lawmaker, told the Ynet news site in remarks published Tuesday that planned efforts to pass a clause that would allow lawmakers to override court vetoes were not needed.

“The override clause is a very pompous and nice headline, but it isn’t necessary. The Basic Law: The Judiciary does not give the High Court the authority to nullify laws. I intend to ignore such rulings, which lack authority,” she stated.

“The High Court of Justice needs to remember its place and restrain its power,” she added. “When the court works without the appropriate authority I don’t respect that, I’m sorry. When it nullifies a law it directly violates the power of authority vested in it.”

While no law explicitly gives the High Court the authority to nullify laws passed by the Knesset, the practice of judicial review has been in use since the 1990s when the Basic Laws were given a quasi-constitutional status, giving the court the ability to ensure that no legislation violates protections enshrined under other Basic Laws.

Gotliv said she would seek the chair of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, citing her experience as a lawyer.

“I really hope my legal knowledge, experience and battles I have waged for the past 22 years will allow me to manage this committee appropriately,” she said.

Gotliv’s remarks were rebuked by senior judicial officials, Ynet reported

“Gotliv is calling for anarchy,” it quoted one official saying. “Respecting court rulings is the foundation of a [well-run] society.”

Gotliv is part of a presumptive incoming government whose members say they will prioritize passing a bill to override the High Court, a long sought goal of the political right, which largely views the court as an unelected bastion of progressivism.

Israelis watch a High Court hearing from outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ultra-Orthodox parties hope to have the law in place before they implement a number of changes as part of the next government that would face High Court challenges, including new legislation enshrining community members’ exemption from national service. The far-right Religious Zionism party has also sought to defang the court’s ability to rule on West Bank land disputes and other matters.

Critics say giving the Knesset the ability to override court rulings would remove an essential check on government power.

“No authority or person is above the law,” Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said Tuesday. “Democracy and the independence of the law enforcement and judicial systems are inseparable. Without one, the other does not exist.”

In September, Shas party leader Aryeh Deri told Kan news that High Court rulings don’t necessarily need to be obeyed, when speaking about a recent verdict allowing visitors to bring leavened food into hospitals on Passover.

“You don’t have to carry out court rulings, with all due respect,” he said.

Likud MK David Amsalem, who is also gunning for a senior judicial post once  Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government, pledged in September to advance an override clause as the first of several judicial reforms he planned.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at a ceremony held for outgoing Supreme Court judge George Karra, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In 2019, then-justice minister Amir Ohana (Likud) suggested the government was not always required to honor High Court rulings.

Ohana, who had been outspoken in his criticism of the courts while serving as justice minister, gave an example of what he said was a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that he claimed should not have been followed, saying the court refused to allow the military to destroy several Palestinian buildings along the Kissufim route in the Gaza Strip.

There is said to be growing concern among the far-right and religious parties that Netanyahu is backing away from passing the controversial override legislation, which critics warn could neuter the High Court. Channel 12 news has reported, without citing sources, that Netanyahu does intend to allow the override bill to proceed and may only be signaling hesitation as a negotiation tactic.

Netanyahu began informal talks on forming his next government on Sunday, though he has not yet been officially handed the mandate by President Isaac Herzog.

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