Israeli Ministers Back Legislation to Curtail Top Court's Powers

Netanyahu declined to use veto and postpone discussion after threats by coalition partners. Bill now heads to Knesset for vote

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

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday backed a bill allowing the Knesset to reenact laws struck down by the High Court of Justice. The bill, which now heads to the Knesset for three votes, allows laws to be reenacted if supported by 61 lawmakers. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially wanted to postpone the vote, but ultimately refrained from using his Likud party’s veto power to push off discussion of the bill after Habayit Hayehudi leaders threatened not to vote with the coalition.

The first of three Knesset votes on the bill is expected Wednesday. Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu party which is also a part of the governing coalition, instructed his party's lawmakers to vote against the bill – although Yoav Galant (Kulanu) supported the bill in his capacity as Construction Minister. 

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The head of the legislation panel, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi, and her party colleague, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, praised the legislation's approval, saying that "the High Court's intervention in legislation and government decisions long ago exceeded accepted norms." 

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.

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.