With New Legislation, Likud Has Reached Its Lowest Point

Bill seeks to invalidate results of democratic elections held by the Bar Association to choose its representatives to the Committee selecting Supreme Court justices.

The best way to describe what happened at Monday's meeting of Likud MKs is that the participants violently and unabashedly attempted to rape Israeli democracy.

A Knesset faction that purports to represent a political party with nationalist and liberal values, headed by the man known as the prime minister of Israel, has nearly reached bottom. If it were up to Benjamin Netanyahu, the faction would have approved supporting an aggressive, destructive bill that Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor referred to as "undemocratic, unconstitutional and unreasonable."

Benjamin Netanyahu - Olivier Fitoussi - 28.12.2011
Olivier Fitoussi

Or as Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar put it: "I have no recollection of anything like this."

The bill seeks to invalidate the results of a properly held democratic election the one held by the Israel Bar Association to choose the two representatives it wants to send to the Judicial Appointments Committee, which selects Supreme Court justices. The only reason for invalidating those results is that someone doesn't like the representatives who were elected.

This is a bill that should never have made its way to the Knesset in the first place. It reached the Likud faction thanks to MKs Yariv Levin and Zeev Elkin, who have made it their duty to undermine the judicial system to the cheers of the far-right extremists in the party.

But Levin and Elkin are just the emissaries of transgression. They represent Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. Both have said Neeman sent them on this mission, helped them with the bill and guided them through the legislative process. When they revealed this to their fellow Likud MKs, Netanyahu who was silent as a fish throughout most of the meeting woke up with the justice minister's nickname on his lips, asking: "Where's Yankele? Where's Yankele?"

Netanyahu, it seems, forgot that Neeman is not a Knesset member. At that moment, the justice minister was at a swearing-in ceremony for new judges at the President's Residence. Oh, the shame!

"I'll hear the justice minister's opinion, and then I'll decide," said Netanyahu. Why is he keeping silent?

Of the 27 Likud MKs, just eight spoke up at Monday's meeting. Levin and Elkin spoke in favor of the bill and the rest, all cabinet ministers, spoke against it: Benny Begin, Michael Eitan, Limor Livnat, Yuval Steinitz, and Meridor and Sa'ar. Steinitz had supported the bill in its previous incarnation, but opposed the current attempt to invalidate the election by retroactively changing the rules of the selection process. Livnat, who opposed the bill last time too, said it was "intolerable."

The scene was so insane that Eitan, resorting to cynicism, said: "Why bother with clauses and subclauses? Let's just write in the law who we want the Israel Bar Association representatives to be."

But is it cynicism? Maybe that's what the next bill will propose.