AG Weinstein Objects to Bill to Override High Court

Bill sponsored by MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) allows the Knesset to infringe on the individual’s rights, says Weinstein.

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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday urged ministers to object to a bill sponsored by MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) that would override High Court of Justice rulings.

The bill, an amendment to the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, is scheduled to be discussed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Shaked’s proposal came in response to the High Court’s ruling last month, striking down a law allowing asylum seekers to be held indefinitely at the Holot detention facility. Outgoing Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar had also urged the cabinet to pass such legislation after the High Court ruling, but the legislation was not advanced as both Weinstein and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni objected to it.

The bill says that should the High Court overturn legislation because it violates a Basic Law (the Israeli equivalent of a constitution or bill of rights) the Knesset may reenact the overturned law, but only with the support of at least 61 of its 120 members. The reenacted law would automatically expire after four years.

Weinstein urged the ministers to reject the bill firmly “mainly because it allows the Knesset to infringe on the individual’s rights without fundamental or procedural limitation,” a legal opinion issued by Attorney Eyal Zandberg of the Justice Ministry. Zandberg wrote that the proposal would remove the current restrictions which ensure that the power of the majority does not harm minorities.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also strongly objected to the bill. Attorney Debbie Gild-Hayo, of ACRI, said the High Court of Justice is the only body that can protect the minority from the majority’s tyranny, prevent discrimination and protect basic civil and human rights.

“These proposals wish to break down the checks and balances that are fundamental to democracy,” she said.

Senior coalition officials said on Wednesday that the bill would never pass. Even if the committee approves it, a senior coalition figure said, “we’ll make sure to file an appeal and bury it.”

IN 1994 the Knesset passed a similar legislation to circumvent the High Court of Justice’s ruling regarding the Freedom of Occupation Law. In that case, the High Court had struck down a ban to import pork.

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