PM opposes draft law on judicial appointments
LAST UPDATED: 11/15/2011 20:43
"The independence of the judiciary is above everything," says Netanyahu.
Knesset vote [file] Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in private conversations on Tuesday that
a draft law mandating that a Knesset committee hold hearings approving
appointments to the Supreme Court is against the country’s status quo and not in
keeping with the coalition’s guidelines.
Netanyahu directed Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman, and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) to remove the
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“A law like this will not pass in a government
I head,” he said.
“The independence of the judiciary is above everything.
I view as paramount the separation of powers and the rule of
Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu’s position on the matter was
heavily influenced by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who met Netanyahu and
his advisers on Monday and said that the law went too far. According to the
report, Weinstein said the proposal was a “bad law” that upset the balance of
power between governmental branches, politicized the judicial system and would
harm the public’s confidence in the judiciary.
The Knesset Constitution,
Law and Justice Committee will discuss another judicial selection reform law on
Wednesday morning, signaling the start of an accelerated legislative process for
the controversial bill.
The Knesset House Committee voted to send the
bill – proposed by MK Robert Ilatov (Israel Beiteinu) with support from
coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and known as the “Sohlberg Bill” – to the
constitution committee as soon as possible, making it likely to reach its first
reading on Wednesday afternoon.
Ilatov and Elkin’s bill, which was
approved in its preliminary reading on Monday, will regulate the Bar
Association’s choice of representatives to the Judicial Selection Committee,
should it pass three more votes in the Knesset.
The MKs proposed that the
Bar Association appoint one coalition and one opposition member to the
committee; currently, the Bar Association can choose two representatives from
one side, as it has done in the past.
If it passes into law, the bill is
expected to open up the doors for Judge Noam Sohlberg’s appointment to the
Supreme Court. Sohlberg, who has been criticized by the Left because he lives
over the Green Line in Alon Shvut, is currently a judge in the Jerusalem
Should the bill pass in its expected first reading on
Wednesday, which is likely, it could be brought for second and third readings
next Monday, one day before Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is expected to
convene a meeting of the Judicial Selection Committee. The committee will vote
on replacements for justices Ayala Procaccia and Edmund Levi, who have both
retired. The committee will likely also name a replacement for Supreme Court
President Dorit Beinisch, who retires in February.
Many Knesset House
Committee votes that assign a committee to discuss a law are uncontested, and
generally do not draw many MKs, but the opposition took Tuesday’s meeting as an
opportunity to slam the bill.
After house committee chairman Yariv Levin
(Likud) proposed that the bill be sent to the constitution, law and justice
committee, MK Dov Henin (Hadash) said, “This bill isn’t a matter of the
constitution or of legality. I doubt it’s even constitutional.”
it should be discussed in the Knesset Interior and Environmental Affairs
Committee, which deals with issues of pollutions,” Henin stated, “since this law
is going to pollute our lawbooks.”
“This bill is a mockery of the law. In
fact, it’s an affliction,” MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said. “Maybe it should be
sent to the committee on drug abuse.”
MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi)
said to Horowitz that he is “trying to keep the courts politically comfortable
for yourself,” to which the Meretz MK replied, “Are you crazy?” “There are new
rules, and you’re upset, because you don’t have a majority in the Knesset, and
in the courts, somehow, you do,” Orbach said. “Now that we want to change one
person [in the Judicial Selection Committee], you’re
“Suddenly everyone is complaining that every minor law has
become ‘antidemocratic,’” Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev lamented.
that he is the forefather of democracy and understands the true meaning of the
“Democracy means rule of the majority.
It’s translated from
Yiddish!” MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) joked.
“I think there is room
for the public to see that the courts don’t only follow one, left-wing agenda,
as it has for years,” Ze’ev added.