Deputy PM Threatens Resignation Over Bill to Limit Israel High Court

Dan Meridor's comments come before ministers review Likud bill that would bar human rights groups not registered in Israel from petitions against the state.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Saturday that he would not remain in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government if it supported a Likud bill that would limit the public's ability to submit petitions to the High Court.

On Thursday, it was made known that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was due to discuss a bill that would restrict the ability to file petitions against government actions in the High Court of Justice.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Dan Meridor - Olivier Fitoussi / BauBau - 20.9.2011
Olivier Fitoussi / BauBau

The bill, initiated by Likud MKs Yariv Levin and Danny Danon, is aimed at reducing the flood of such petitions submitted in recent years, often by petitioners who have no direct connection to the issue at hand.

Speaking of the bill on Channel 2's Meet the Press, Meridor, who is also Intelligence and Atomic Energy minister, said that there was "a red line, limiting the High Court will not pass," Meridor said, adding that "there won't be a single day in which a law such as this exists and I am still in the cabinet."

"I don't believe that Israel will go dozens of years back in time and support such a move," he said, adding that he had "returned to the government to stop such things. I don't think that anyone in his right mind will support it."

The deputy PM also criticized recent verbal attacks against the Supreme Court, saying that claiming the court was made up of a "radical leftist elite" was "appalling."

"If there's any point in my sitting in the cabinet, as well that of others, it's this," Meridor said.

In response to Meridor's threats to resign if the bill to limit High Court petitions would pass as law, one of the bill's sponsors, Danny Danon said that Likud would not "be allowed to turn into a branch of Kadima."

"Anyone who disagrees with the opinion of the majority within Likud needs to reach his own conclusions as to his political place – the door is open for minister Meridor," Danon said.

In explaining their bill to limit High Court petitions, Levin and Danon wrote earlier this week that there was a need "to set criteria that balance the use of this critical tool, using parameters to assure the soundness of the process and to preserve the link between the alleged harm and the identity of the petitioner."

Under the bill, human rights groups not registered in Israel and whose main activities are not in Israel would not be permitted to petition the High Court. Nor would a group be allowed to file a petition over a wrong ostensibly being done to someone, unless that individual himself petitioned the court as well.

Petitions of a general nature would only be permitted regarding issues of substantial constitutional import to the conduct of government, or if the harm that might be done to the public is substantial and palpable.

Moreover, any group who files such a public petition and accepts donations from abroad, would be required to report its funding sources to the court, to prevent the "irrelevant motives of interested or hostile groups" from getting a hearing under the guise of a public petition.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: השר דן מרידור מאיים: לא אשאר בממשלה שתפגע בבית המשפט העליון