Analysis: Too Right for his own good?

Netanyahu has started relying on the court to disqualify bills he does not like but reluctantly passes.

February 23, 2017 20:53
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters accompanying him to Australia Thursday that he is overjoyed by the four new appointments to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Netanyahu said the court would now be more balanced.

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That could be an understatement following the appointments of Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz of Dolev in the West Bank’s Binyamin region, Haifa District Court Judge Yael Willner, who is an Orthodox woman, and Haifa District Court President Yosef Elron, who was vehemently opposed by doves on the current court.

Mintz is the second resident of Judea and Samaria on the court, joining Noam Sohlberg, who lives in Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. There are now more judges out of some 400,000 Jews in the West Bank than there are Arab judges representing the 1,658,000 Arab citizens of Israel. Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Karra will replace outgoing justice Salim Joubran, keeping one Arab on the court.

The changes are expected to have an immediate impact on key cases and issues that will be decided in the next weeks and months.

Netanyahu, who commiserated last week with US President Donald Trump on their mutual animosity for the media, in the past also repeatedly criticized the Supreme Court. He never went as far as picking fights with them to the extent that Trump has with US courts over his Muslim immigrant ban, but there were some fiery disputes.

Now it has gotten to the point where it appears that sometimes Netanyahu feels more ideologically connected to the court than the Knesset and even his own Likud Party.

Netanyahu has started relying on the court to disqualify bills he does not like but reluctantly passes. The best, but not only, example is the Settlements Regulation Law that is now in the books but is expected to be thrown out by the court in the near future.

This reliance on the judicial branch to correct mistakes made by the legislature due to the weakness of the executive has been deemed by opposition MKs a flaw in the functioning of Netanyahu’s government.

It is hard to see Trump making a similar plea to the courts to save him.

As it stands now, the court will still throw out the Settlements Regulation Law and others like it. But the longer Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stay in power, the more conservative, right-wing and religious the court will become.

Netanyahu, who expressed pride on Thursday in the court becoming more balanced, could find himself with a court that is too Right for his own good.

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