Lapid: I believe High Court will rule against law that gives coalition control of justices; not sure we’ll still have a country on 75th anniversary

Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks during a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset, on March 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks during a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset, on March 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

At a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party in the Knesset, opposition leader Yair Lapid decries the coalition’s fast-moving “hostile takeover of the judicial system.”

Regarding the coalition’s updated legislation that gives it the right to fill the first two empty High Court justice seats in each Knesset session, and heavy sway over any after the first two, Lapid notes: “If they control the justices, there is no separation of powers. There is no independent judiciary. Israel is not a democracy.”

If the law passes, as the coalition vowed late Sunday would happen before the Knesset’s Passover recess, “we’ll go to the High Court,” Lapid says.

“If it passes, Israel stops being a democracy. We won’t let this happen. The liberal camp simply will not live in an Israel that is not a democracy. Hundreds of thousands of patriots will continue to take to the streets.”

He says the opposition is prepared to debate judicial reform on the basis of President Herzog’s alternative proposal.

“If the coalition wants to stop the destruction of the economy, the harm to security, the collapse of Israel’s international standing,” and the internal rift, Lapid says, it must stop the legislation. “Then we can talk — about a constitution based on the Declaration of Independence.”

Asked whether he will seek to suspend mass public demonstrations against the overhaul during the state ceremonies when Israel’s marks its 75th Independence Day late next month, Lapid says: “We’ll wait and see if we still have a country for the state ceremonies, because they are gradually destroying it.”

“If the law passes, there is no Judicial Selection Committee,” he says. “We’ll appeal to the High Court and I believe and hope that the High Court will rule that the law is illegal and there is no [legitimate] Judicial Selection Committee.”

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