Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winning the Labour party primary runoff, at an event in Tel Aviv, Israel July 10, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Labor chairman Avi Gabbay promised on Saturday to do everything possible to prevent the passage of what Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have called a “counter-revolution” to push back against decisions by the High Court of Justice.
Bennett and Shaked’s proposal would attempt to restore what they believe is the proper separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches after the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court, has overturned cabinet decisions and legislation in recent months that would have prevented drafting more ultra-Orthodox men, permitted expelling more migrant workers, allowed the outpost of Migron to remain, and initiated a tax on those who own three apartments.
One new Basic Law would both create a mechanism for the Knesset to override the High Court if it strikes down a law, as well as setting out special procedures for laws that the court would not have the power to strike. Another Basic Law proposed by the Bayit Yehudi ministers would redefine the parameters of the balance between Israel’s democratic and Jewish principles to lean more in favor of Jewish principles.
“This proposal would destroy the basis of the legal system’s independence and make it into a body with political considerations,” Gabbay said at a Shabbat cultural event in Petah Tikva. “I oppose this and I believe the prime minister will also oppose it.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not responded to the proposal, which Bennett and Shaked revealed on Thursday night. But coalition chairman David Bitan, who is close to Netanyahu, spoke in favor of it on Saturday on Channel 10.
“The Supreme Court has trampled the authority of the Knesset and the cabinet,” Bitan said. “In the current situation, they are the ones who decide what is done in this country.”
Bennett responded to Gabbay by accusing him of not reading his proposal.
“We do not intend to harm the judicial independence or the stature of the Supreme Court,” Bennett said. “The opposite is true. The public stopped trusting the Supreme Court because of the feeling that it took authority that does not belong to the judicial branch and has tied the hands of the government to prevent it from governing.”