The prime minister's responsibility
The prime minister has an obligation to make it clear that in a democracy, the rules of the game are not changed after the results are in, even when they don't make things easy.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will consider a bill Sunday that is aimed at drastically limiting the right to petition the High Court of Justice. The bill would actually bar nonprofit organizations working in a number of fields related to civil and human rights from petitioning the court. The sponsors of the legislation apparently hope that victims will refrain from filing petitions or will falter due to their own weakness or in the absence of support.
Petitions over government corruption will disappear altogether, even in the absence of their being targeted directly. This bill is part of a broad legislative move by an enthusiastic group of Knesset members led, to his shame, by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
The rulings of the High Court of Justice are the most significant force ensuring the existence of human and civil rights in Israeli society. The High Court is perhaps also the most significant force for the preservation of Israel's reputation in the world. Many of the components of Israeli society that we can boast about here and around the world exist thanks to High Court of Justice decisions, and it is not for nothing that it is so highly regarded around the world.
The fact that its existence has so angered a number of Knesset members, as well as the justice minister, need not absolve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his primary responsibility for the move. The prime minister should make it clear that he has no intention to change the High Court's scope of activity, and should see to it that the bill is removed from the agenda.
The prime minister's involvement is even more necessary to stop the antidemocratic process that Neeman has been leading, aimed at forcing the Israel Bar Association to choose its representatives for the Judicial Appointments Committee that suit his aspirations, as well as those of Yisrael Beiteinu and some Likud MKs. No one felt the need in prior years to change the rules for the selection of the bar association's representatives on the committee, and they cannot be changed simply because this time the representatives selected were not Neeman's associates. In the process, it would incidentally foil the bar association election results that gave Yori Geiron's faction a majority on the organization's council.
Such a change can be carried out, but only as a matter of principle that will take effect from the next Knesset and following elections for members of the next bar association national council. The prime minister has an obligation to make it clear that in a democracy, the rules of the game are not changed after the results are in, even when they don't make things easy.