Israeli Ministers Set to Approve Legislation to Curtail Top Court's Power

The PM won't use his veto power to postpone a vote on the bill, which would allow the Knesset to override the court's rulings, but instead seeks a compromise

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi head and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, Jerusalem, March 12, 2018.
Emil salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not use his Likud party’s veto power to postpone a Sunday discussion on a bill that would allow the Knesset to reenact laws overturned by the High Court of Justice. Instead, he prefers to hammer out a compromise with Likud’s senior coalition partner, Habayit Hayehudi.

The discussion is to take place in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which decides whether or not the coalition will support the proposed legislation.

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The committee chairwoman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi, and her party colleague, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, had decided to hold the vote on the bill, an amendment to the Basic Law on Legislation that would relegislate a law struck down by the court if it had the support of 61 of the 120 Knesset members.

One proposal by another Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker, Moti Yogev, was to completely nullify the power of the court to strike down laws. Sources in the party said that the bills were worded according to an outline agreed upon with Likud as part of the coalition agreement signed when the current government was established, and there was no reason not to move forward with it.

On Thursday Netanyahu asked to postpone the discussion for a week, saying that he was busy with security issues and had no time to put together a coalition majority to pass the bill. Habayit Hayehudi threatened to not participate in any Knesset votes supporting the government coalition if the discussion was postponed. Netanyahu, who does not want to be perceived as the cause of the delay by his supporters, is seeking a compromise.

If the issue does come up, the committee will probably pass it, although Likud ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Yuval Steinitz are expected to appeal the decision, as might the Kulanu ministers, who also oppose it. If no appeals are filed, the Knesset will vote on the bill on Wednesday.