Opposition Plans Filibuster to Torpedo Grunis Law

The planned debate could go on for some 27 hours.

While the coalition strives to bring the Grunis Law to a vote today in the Knesset on its second and third readings, the opposition is readying for a marathon filibuster that will cover all 5,000 submitted reservations to the bill. The planned debate could go on for some 27 hours.

Coalition members yesterday were undecided as to whether or not to hold a vote on the proposed law today. Coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud ) eventually decided to tie the Grunis Law to a second controversial bill that aims to change the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee. Elkin is expected to allow a vote on the Grunis Law, provided he receives authorization to raise the bill on the Judicial Appointments Committee for a vote on its second and third readings next week.

Justice Asher Grunis - Tomer Appelbaum - 29112011
Tomer Appelbaum

At the same time, coalition members fear that a marathon debate on the Grunis Law today will allow Kadima to pull a fast one - namely, to complete the lengthy debate and move to a vote as soon as it is clear that there isn't enough support for the law in the Knesset.

The coalition is also looking into the option of coming to an understanding with the opposition on limiting the length of today's debate and holding a vote on the law tomorrow morning. The chances of reaching such an understanding, however, appear very slim.

The Grunis Law, initiated by MK Yaakov Katz (National Union ), is intended to pave the way for Justice Asher Grunis' appointment to the post of Supreme Court president. The law does away with the main stumbling block in the way of Grunis' appointment - the age restriction. Grunis will have less than three years to go before retirement age when current Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch steps down, and the current law does not allow for the appointment of a justice who has less than three years to go until retirement.

Meanwhile, writers Amos Oz and Yoram Kaniuk, along with a long list of jurists and intellectuals, called yesterday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work toward scuttling the Grunis Law and other bills designed to alter the character of Israel's Supreme Court.

"The contempt must not be permitted," they wrote in a public letter. "Benjamin Netanyahu is faced with a sharp and clear choice: He can either allow the current wave to continue and thus turn himself into the destroyer of Israeli democracy and justice, or he can stop it immediately - stop it and announce that at least until the end of the Knesset's winter session, there will be a freezing of all the legislation and bills pertaining to the courts, the media and the civil rights organizations in Israel."