High Court of Justice
Deliberations at High Court of Justice, Dec. 29, 2010. Photo by Emil Salman
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The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided Sunday that the coalition would not support a proposed law sponsored by Likud MKs Danny Danon and Yariv Levin, which would limit who can petition the High Court of Justice. All of the ministers voted against the bill after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that he too was opposed to it.

On a practical level, it was clear the legislation would also not garner the support necessary to pass it if it were brought to a Knesset vote.

For his part, Danon commented: "I understand the reasons why the prime minister decided to reject the bill at this time. I still think he would also agree that we have to find ways to stop the contempt of the High Court, and the improper use to which it is put by political entities - a large portion of which are hostile to the State of Israel and are using Israeli democracy to harm the state."

Netanyahu announced his opposition to the legislation shortly after Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor threatened to quit the government if the bill - or another proposed law that would require candidates for Supreme Court justice to face a Knesset hearing - received the support of the coalition.

The bill proposed by Danon and Levin would significantly curtail the ability of certain organizations to petition the High Court. For example, human rights groups whose operations are centered primarily outside Israel and are not registered here would be barred from filing petitions with the court.

The bill would also restrict petitions on behalf of someone harmed by government conduct, unless the individual himself agrees to petition the court. In addition, it would limit public petitions to matters that either have important constitutional ramifications vis-a-vis governance, or where harm to the public is concrete and substantive.