Rightist MKs Pledge to Restrict High Court After Asylum Seeker Law Overturned

Coalition chairman calls justices’ decision not to incarcerate asylum seekers 'post Zionist.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Holot detention center.
Holot detention center.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Rightist MKs on Tuesday slammed Monday’s High Court of Justice’s decision to strike down an amendment to the anti-infiltration law, saying they will push for legislation to renew laws that the court had disqualified and alter the way justices are appointed.

Coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin, one of the leaders of the struggle against the High Court, called the court’s ruling “post Zionist” and said “it undermines Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state and tramples the Knesset’s sovereignty.”

The court had ordered the state on Monday to close the Holot detention facility for asylum seekers within 90 days. As part of its ruling, the court also overturned another provision of the same law that allowed asylum seekers who entered Israel illegally to be incarcerated without trial in a closed facility for up to a year.

“The justices are cut off from reality and the people, and flout the principle of Israel being a Jewish democracy,” Levin said. He said he would sponsor legislation altering the way High Court justices are appointed.

“The High Court trampled the legislating authority,” Habayit Hayehudi faction chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday. “It’s time to change the way judges are selected, from cloning judges in the ‘buddy system’ to a balance between activism and conservatism.”

Shaked and nine rightist MKs submitted a proposal several months ago allowing the Knesset to reenact laws that contradict the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, even if they had been disqualified by the High Court. The proposal stipulates that these laws, which require majority support of at least 61 MKs despite their conflict with the basic law, expire after four years.

The sponsors said in the preamble to the bill that “to prevent the Knesset from taking advantage of the arrangement to infringe on basic values, a newly legislated law that had been nixed by the court would be restricted to four years.”

MK Ze’ev Elkin, head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said “the legal system cannot replace the Knesset and government to protect law-breakers who threaten to harm Israel’s Jewish character.”

Shaked told Haaretz that she intends to advance the bill as soon as the Knesset reconvenes for its winter session at the end of October, and submit it for a vote in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee at its first sitting after the recess.

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