Three Thousand People Demonstrate Against the 'Bill That Would Cripple the High Court'

Netanyahu and Justice Minister Shaked are due to meet on Sunday with Supreme Court President Esther Hayut to discuss limitations on the court's authority

Tel Aviv protest against the "bill that would cripple the High Court," April 28, 2018.
Ofer Vaknin

Three thousand people arrived at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening where weekly demonstrations against government corruption have been held. Saturday's demonstration focused on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition's intention to pass a bill limiting the power of the High Court of Justice.

Demonstrators held protest signs, such as "Bibi take your hands off the High Court of Justice" and "Netanyahu is on trial."

"Anyone who thinks that with a wave of a hand he can wipe out Israeli democracy will find a lively and kicking Israeli public that is ready to fight for Israel as he knows it," Meretz chairman Tamar Zandberg said at the rally. "The law to erase the High Court will not pass, and we will continue to do everything to ensure that," she added.

Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Habayit Hayehudi party are due to meet on Sunday with Supreme Court President Esther Hayut to discuss limitations on the court's authority that the prime minister is seeking to institute.

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Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the swearing-in ceremony of Hayut at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, 2017.
Haim Zach/Govemment Press Offce

Netanyahu sought the meeting after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit asked him to do hold it before making a decision on the issue. As a result, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s consideration of the issue, which had been scheduled for Sunday, was deferred. The committee decides whether or not the coalition will support a bill.

There is more than one proposed piece of legislation that would empower the Knesset to override the High Court and reinstitute legislation that the court has struck down. As of now, the prime minister has not decided which of the proposed bills he favors, how many justices should disqualify Knesset legislation or the minimum number of Knesset members that would be required to reenact laws that the court has invalidated.

Last week, the prime minister cooled the level of rhetoric on the subject and made no public comments on the matter. Some of his associates have told him that curbing the authority of Israel’s top court is bad for two reasons: First, it could result in many more laws getting struck down, while reinstituting them will be nearly impossible, and second, it would spawn an unrestrained legislative race that would lead to deep disagreements within the governing coalition.