Israeli Supreme Court 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
The “Grunis Bill” was approved for its second and third (final) readings in a
speedy Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting on Monday. The
bill is now expected to be put to a final vote in two weeks.
Chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) held the vote within the first five
minutes of the meeting, before all of the committee members arrived, following
last week’s attempt by the opposition to filibuster discussion of National Union
leader MK Ya’acov Katz’s bill.
The initiative, one of a series of
controversial bills regarding the judicial system, reduces the minimum tenure
for a Supreme Court or National Labor Court president from three to two years,
reversing an order from 2007 by then-justice minister Daniel
Katz has been accused of proposing a “personal bill,” because
it would allow Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis, an opponent of judicial
activism, to replace Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch when she retires at
age 70 in February. Politicians on the right believe that Grunis’s views on the
judiciary make him less likely to order the dismantling of West Bank homes and
to go against other decisions made by state authorities.
The bill was
approved within minutes, in a mostly empty committee
“Apparently, the opposition MKs only come to committee meetings
because of the media, and weren’t here because they didn’t see the press,”
Committee Chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) quipped. “Last week we had a
long and intense discussion [of the ‘Grunis Bill’], so all we needed to do this
week was vote.”
On Wednesday, Kadima MKs used Knesset regulations to move
and delay the bill’s discussion, until it was postponed to Monday.
said that the bill’s approval “prevented a major injustice, in that a talented
judge will not be prevented from serving as Supreme Court president just because
of a matter of 41 days.” “Slowly, slowly the justice in the Supreme Court will
increase, as so many Israeli citizens wished,” the National Union MK
In response to the committee’s decision to approve the bill for
its second and third readings, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, whose
stated aim is to protect human rights and ensure sound government, said that the
judicial selection committee’s role is to choose the most suitable candidate for
the role of Supreme Court president.
“We have nothing against Justice
Grunis, but the most appropriate candidate must be chosen to be Supreme Court
president, not the most senior one,” said attorney Nachi Eyal, the Legal Forum’s
director. “It’s time that the ‘seniority method’ [of selecting the Supreme Court
President] was scrapped.”