Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that the vote on the
judicial selection reform bill sponsored would be postponed until next
The bill was put forward by coalition chairman Ze’ev
Elkin and MK Yariv Levin of the Likud.
to pass the judges through a selection process,
is a dangerous matter for the balance of the law,
and for the legal system in the country.
It's a terrible proposal,
that is meant to affect the strength of Supreme Court justices.
Therefore, this can't pass in a democratic country like Israel.
I think that over the past 20 years, the behavior of the Supreme Court,
and the legal system in general,
has become a mistake of the democratic system.
We need to change this matter on a basic level.
I think that if the Supreme Court justices knew how to act in an orderly matter,
without imposing themselves into issues that don't concern them,
without interfering with the actions of the Knesset,
or the actions of the government,
and if they were less politically motivated in their decisions,
then the current selection process would remain.
But, the problem is bad, and we must deal with it.
I think that whoever is scared of the Supreme Court is scared of its stance,
we see that not everyone believes in the stance of the Supreme Court,
when it relates to public issues.
There are many people who think that the court doesn't represent the range of Israeli opinions,
I think that the court must represent all opinions,
because the court doesn't just deal with straight forward cases,
but with cases that have political meaning.
Therefore, it is important that the justices be trustworthy representatives,
and every action that reassures the public,
that the Supreme Court represents everyone, that is in everyone's interest.
According to the proposed law, any justice appointed by the Supreme Court president would face a
public hearing in the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee,
which would have the right to disqualify the judge from serving in the
MKs from the coalition and opposition spoke out against the proposal.
unlikely to ask for full UN membership
officials deny rumors of Abbas plan to dismantle
leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said on Sunday that the government this
week "will try to advance laws that deal with silencing [of justices],"
according to a Kadima press release.
If the bill passes, each justice "would be asked to
prove that he is more nationalistic than the other," she explained. According
to Livni, the judicial selections bill would cause chosen justices "to
need to say thank you everyday to another politician for their
Speaking with high school students at the Ort School in Afula, the opposition leader promised that the Kadima Party will lead "the public battle against a series of laws that are not consistent with Israel's value system."
Also on Sunday, Education
Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), a member of the Ministerial Committee on
Legislation, called the bill "a red line," in an interview with Israel
According to Sa'ar, the Likud Party will
not remain as it is if the bill passes in the Knesset with the party's
support. The bill would lead to the complete politicization of the
judicial selection process and would threaten the balance of power
between government branches, he explained.
Currently, only the
three judges in the Judicial Selection Committee can veto potential
The proposed measure, along with a bill that was already given
coalition backing by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and is meant to
regulate the appointment of Judicial Selection Committee members, are part of a
series of judicial reform bills Elkin and Levin are promoting before new Supreme
Court justices are chosen in the coming months.
Defense Minister Ehud
Barak voiced opposition to the new bill on Saturday evening, saying “this is a
dangerous proposal that will damage the independence of High Court
Ministers from Barak’s Independence Party planned to vote against
the bill, and to “fight the destructive trend that harms the delicate
balance of judicial supremacy,” the defense minister said.
Shama-Hacohen, a Likud MK like Elkin and Levin, also spoke out against the bill,
saying “it will bring Knesset politics in a blunt and disproportionate way into
the walls of the High Court.”
“The logic of the bill depends on the
coalition’s identity,” Shama said. “It is clear that those who proposed the bill
and its supporters may find one day that they created a dangerous and
“At the same time, it is clear to everyone that
the current [judicial selection] process creates imbalanced groups of judges
that twist the face of the High Court, and harm the public’s confidence in what
is a cornerstone of the justice system,” Shama said.
Opposition MKs also
slammed the bill, echoing an official Kadima statement from last week that the
Likud is “trying to terrorize the justice system.”
“It is your
responsibility to prevent Israel from turning into a banana republic in which
only political wheelerdealers can be appointed judges,” MK Yohanan Plesner
(Kadima) said in a message directed to members of the Ministerial Committee on
Legislation. “Even discussing this inappropriate bill is distressing and
reflects the lack of values this government shows.”
Meretz MK Nitzan
Horowitz said that “Likud and Israel Beiteinu extremists, with backing from
haredi factions, are competing with one another to wipe out all criticism and
free thinking in the country: the justice system, the media, academia, culture
“Democracy does not disappear from a democratic country in one
day, but in a process of methodically gnawing away at civil freedoms, during
which the system of government changes,” Horowitz said.
Last week, Elkin
defended the bill, saying that “[the public hearings will] allow the public to
be more involved in the process of choosing High Court justices, in order to
increase the public’s confidence in the court system.
only strengthen democracy and the public’s confidence in Israel’s judicial
system,” Elkin said.
According to Levin, “This is the end of the radical
left-wing hegemony over the courts, and the beginning of the entire system’s
“The law will bring variety in the make-up of the High
Court and its gates will open to Sephardic judges, Russian judges and
nationalist judges,” he said. “It will also prevent the appointment of judges
with a post-Zionist agenda.”