Knesset Seeks Representative Independence From AG

The Knesset passed in preliminary reading yesterday a draft bill that would enable it to represent itself in deliberations over the rescinding of a law, freeing legislature from its dependence on the attorney general for legal representation. The bill was submitted by MK Michael Eitan (Likud) and five MKs from Kadima, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, and it is supported by the coalition and by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

One of the aims of the proposed law is to require the High Court of Justice, when it considers striking down a law, to relate to the intentions of the law's original framers. This contrasts the legal approach that holds that as soon a law is passed, it has a life of its own. If the law is passed, it will do much to strengthen the position of the Knesset legal adviser, who represents the Knesset in the High Court on all constitutional questions.

For years, it was the attorney general who responded to petitions to strike down laws. In 1997, Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin ruled that when such a petition is submitted, "the constitutional arguments are directed against the law, not against the Knesset. The legislature is not a party to the conflict. As such, the Knesset must not be made a party to the procedures. Of course, the attorney general should be invited to every such deliberation."

In 2000, the Knesset Legal Adviser Law was passed, which authorizes the adviser, pending court approval, to attend legal proceedings affecting the Knesset and express an opinion on the matter. The courts, however, continued to hold the position that the Knesset should stay out of matters involving the rescinding or the interpretation of laws.