Israel's High Court of Justice.
(photo credit: ISRAELTOURISM / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The High Court of Justice has frozen a bill intended to enable ministers to place more of their political allies in high-powered government positions, sidestepping current requirements for open competition.
While ministers themselves are political appointees, most government officials who work for the ministers are career professionals with no political affiliation.
This has angered Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and others in the government, who are frequently frustrated by the professional level either refusing to carry out some of their decisions or dragging out implementation.
At its heart, the dispute is about how far ministers and the government can go in enacting policy changes that might sometimes contradict the professional level’s understanding of the limits for new policies.
Shaked, Levin and the government ministers who approved the legislation viewed having more political appointees in their ministries as a way to circumvent professional-level opposition.
The bill would allow any ministry with more than 150 employees to have an additional top-level political appointee. It would also allow more control by politicians over search committees, where such committees are mandated by law.
But attorney Yuval Yoaz, representing the Movement for Purity of Ethics, petitioned to strike the bill as unconstitutional even before it goes into effect.
The High Court’s order late Sunday night freezes the bill from going into effect until it issues a final ruling on the bill’s constitutionality.