Bennett's Party's Ultimatum: Vote on Limiting High Court Within 10 Days or We Boycott Coalition Votes

'This is the most important constitutional step in the last 25 years,' Habayit Hayehudi says

Party chairman of Habayit Hayehudi Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Prize ceremony, April 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Habayit Hayehudi party issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday morning. Habayit Hayehudi threatened that if a vote is not held within 10 days on the bill limiting the power of the High Court of Justice to rule legislation unconstitutional, the party’s Knesset members will not participate in any Knesset votes supporting the government coalition.

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The party is demanding that the Ministerial Committee on legislation convene to vote on the proposed law – and give it official government support – by Sunday, May 6. The present version of the amendment backed by Habayit Hayehudi would require only a vote of 61 MKs to override a High Court ruling, but other proposed versions of the law would require a supermajority of MKs to overrule the court.

“We agreed yesterday evening to [Netanyahu’s] request to postpone the vote on the ‘override clause’ in order to [study] the matter in depth and clarify it,” said the party's statement. “But the Habayit Hayehudi Knesset faction is still determined to pass the override clause,” referring to the amendment that would limit the court’s powers to override legislation and allow the Knesset to affirm such legislation.

“This is the most important constitutional step in the last 25 years,” said the party. “It is the basis for governability, removing the illegal infiltrators and an effective fight against terrorism. We must not miss out on the historic opportunity to restore the balance between the government and High Court, which has exceeded its authority,” said the statement.

Habayit Hayehudi said that Likud is required by the coalition agreements signed when the present government was established to support the override clause. “Agreements must be honored,” said the party – with the section of the coalition agreement on the issue attached.

On Monday, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut told Netanyahu that she would only meet him if he put off the ministerial committee’s discussion, which was scheduled for Tuesday, of the bill allowing the Knesset to override the High Court’s power to rule a law unconstitutional. Netanyahu agreed to Hayut’s request to postpone the debate in the committee, which is what led to Habayit Hayehudi’s announcement.