In Test to Netanyahu, Opposition to Present Bill Overriding High Court

Netanyahu and Gantz's parties – the two main coalition partners – have agreed not to support legislation that doesn’t concern the coronavirus crisis

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked in a press conference, May 2020.
Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked in a press conference, May 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Yamina alliance is expected to bring to a Knesset vote this week a bill that would permit the parliament to bypass High Court of Justice rulings, even though the two main coalition partners said they would not support such legislation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan have agreed not to back any bill that do not concern the coronavirus crisis.

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On Friday, Justice Minister and chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation Avi Nissenkorn of Kahol Lavan, and his deputy on the committee, Likud lawmaker David Amsalem, announced the decision.

Nevertheless, coalition whip Miki Zohar said that he would call on Netanyahu to vote in favor of the bill because “we must not go against [the will of] our voters.”

According to the proposed bill, the Knesset would have the authority to pass legislation that the High Court had struck down. To do so the bill would have to gain the support of a majority of 61 lawmakers out of 120. In addition, the bill states that the High Court can only strike down legislation by a majority of two thirds of a panel of 11 justices.

Likud’s and Kahol Lavan’s agreement is not binding on Shaked, as she is not a member of the coalition. Her associates say the coalition agreement is insignificant since Kahol Lavan would have blocked the bill anyway. However, presenting such a bill could embarrass Likud lawmakers, who have expressed support for it in the past, and would have to oppose it now due to the constraints of coalition discipline.

According to Shaked, the bill is “a special invitation to lawmakers from the right-wing block to stop whining, to stop judicial piracy.” If the bill is voted down, it can be presented again only in six months.

According to the proposed legislation, only those who are directly linked to a certain ruling could petition against it with the High Court.

In the remarks elaborating on the bill, Shaked mentioned “Petitions involving the demolition of settlements in Judea and Samaria, submitted against flourishing settlements that have been standing for decades are a home and community for dozens and hundreds of families."

In many of these petitions, Shaked wrote, "which sometimes end with a court order to evacuate a settlement or demolish houses in it, the petitioners prove no right or connection to the land on which the houses they seek to demolish stand," Shaked adds.

Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism announced they would also not back Shaked's bill, stressing they are committed to preserve the governing coalition and preventing a fourth election within one year. They added they are vigorously working to fight the coronavirus and pass the state budget.

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