Israeli Supreme Court 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
Left-wing MKs argued with Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Wednesday about
whether his memorandum on a draft of Basic Law: Legislation would destroy or
strengthen the High Court of Justice.
Based on recommendations by a
government- appointed public committee headed by Neeman before he was justice
minister, the proposed basic law would establish the authority of the Supreme
Court to annul laws – and stipulates that the Knesset can still pass a law even
if the court overturned it in an additional reading with a majority of 65
According to Meretz leader MK Zehava Gal-On, the new basic law would
bring a wave of anti-democratic legislation.
“What does Neeman want? He
wants the Knesset to have the last word, so the tyranny of the majority will
decide,” she said. “Neeman is telling the court that it does not interest him.
He is saying: Who cares about democracy or human rights?” Gal-On said that in
the past decade, the High Court canceled three laws, and it must maintain this
“This is a heavy, important topic, and the coalition marginalized
it,” MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) said.
Herzog called for a dialogue between
the three branches of government, which he said did not occur before Neeman
publicized his memorandum.
“This makes me suspect that the government
does not really want to arrange relations between the branches, they want to
challenge the court’s ability to stand strong and independent,” Herzog
Neeman said that Basic Law: Legislation is absolutely
necessary for democracy to continue to exist in Israel.
“I was a
professor of constitutional law for many years, and I did my homework,” Neeman
quipped. “I have been looking at this material for 37 years, and it is clear
that the Knesset needs to pass Basic Law: Legislation and has not been able to
Neeman said that it has taken his three years as justice minister
to prepare the memorandum, plus his time on the public committee 10 years ago,
in which he researched the topic and brought recommendations to the
As part of this process, Neeman said he spoke to many retired
judges, as well as Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch, before she completed
her tenure earlier this year.
According to the justice minister, his
version of the basic law would anchor the High Court as a constitutional
Currently, Neeman explained, a majority of two MKs against one
could just cancel Basic Law: The Judiciary, and the High Court would not be able
to work at all.
The new basic law would give all such legislation a
constitutional value, and could only be canceled in a special majority after
four readings, he stated.
In addition, only the government or Knesset
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee could propose a new basic law, which
Neeman said would prevent “anti-democratic” ones from being
Neeman also pointed out that he put forward a memorandum and
did not submit the bill, in order to put the issue on the public
“The Knesset is sovereign, represents the nation, and will decide
what will happen in the end,” he said.