Bennett: We're saying not everything is subject to the court

Jewish Home unveils draft of bill to weaken High Court

Under proposal, judiciary will be unable to reject Basic Laws, government can override court’s disqualification of other laws

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett (R) with Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked during a plenum session on November 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett (R) with Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked during a plenum session on November 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Tuesday published a draft bill that would curb the authority of the High Court of Justice and Supreme Court in striking down Knesset legislation.

The newly unveiled draft of the Basic Law penned by the Jewish Home leaders would prevent the courts from disqualifying any quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

However, the Knesset will only be able to pass a Basic Law with the support of at least 61 of the 120 lawmakers in each of its three plenary readings. In addition, such laws will only be able to be brought to parliament for a vote by the cabinet, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, or a minimum of 20 members of the Knesset.

The draft legislation says the court will only be able to strike down any other laws with a special panel of nine presiding justices, and only if two-thirds of the justices supported the move.

However, even if a law is shot down by the court, lawmakers will nevertheless have the ability to re-legislate the law with the support of at least 61 MKs, for up to five years, and with the option of renewing it after that time, according to the draft.

Though the right-wing party has long complained of court interference in the government’s ability to govern, Bennett said that the immediate catalyst for submitting the draft legislation now was Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that the bodies of Palestinians killed carrying out terror attacks must be released for burial and may not be used as bargaining chips.

A government statement on Monday said members of the high-level security cabinet decided the ruling by Israel’s highest court was “unacceptable” and asked it to hold a fresh hearing on the issue.

“Today we are telling the High Court of Justice: ‘Not everything is subject to the court,'” Bennett told Hadashot news on Tuesday. “The government should govern and judges should judge. The Basic Law on Legislation will define in a balanced manner the boundaries between the various authorities.”

“Judicial activism severely damaged Israeli democracy when it removed the people’s right to vote,” Shaked told Hadashot. “The Basic Law on Legislation will restore the norm formerly practiced in the State of Israel and will clearly define the boundaries of judicial review, the legislative process, the enactment of Basic Laws and the dialogue between the court and the Knesset.”

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni slammed the proposed legislation.

“The proposed law is carrying out Jewish Home’s threat to raze the Supreme Court with a D9 bulldozer, and is part of a comprehensive move to harm all the gatekeepers in Israel,” the former justice minister tweeted. “Their goal is that nobody should remain to hold a stop sign when they turn Israel into a binational, non-democratic state.”

The proposal follows a series of High Court rulings that unraveled existing Knesset legislation, including its revised IDF ultra-Orthodox enlistment bill, its policies on detaining African migrants, the two-year budget, a plan by the finance minister for third-apartment taxation, and the revocation of permanent residency status of four Palestinian parliamentarians from East Jerusalem with ties to the Hamas terror group a decade ago.

The Supreme Court has frequently irked right-wing and Orthodox politicians with an interventionist ethos pioneered by Aharon Barak, court president from 1995 to 2006.

Barak expanded the range of issues the court dealt with, viewing both the need to protect individual rights against other arms of the law, and to keep a watchful eye on government, as key.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.