Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday delayed its vote regarding initiatives to limit the judiciary’s authority over the African migrants’ issue, following Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s strident and vocal opposition on Thursday.
There were multiple narratives about why the vote was delayed, with some suggesting that Mandelblit’s opposition had changed the playing field and others saying the delay was merely procedural.
The debate is the next stage in the issue which has led to unprecedented battles between the Knesset and the High Court of Justice, with the court essentially nixing four different policies as being unconstitutional.
In order to succeed in their goal of getting the over 35,000 remaining migrants – out of the original 60,000 – to leave the country, many of the coalition parties have sought to empower the Knesset to override any court veto or limit the court’s authority specifically regarding migrants.
Spokespersons for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Likud’s Yoav Kisch, the sponsor of one of the initiatives, suggested that the one-week delay was simply because Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett were out of the country.
Kulanu’s Roy Folkman attacked the initiatives of Kisch and Bayit Yehudi’s Shuli Moalem-Refaeli as poorly drafted, suggesting that there might be a longer delay until the bill being discussed is less legally objectionable.
Pressed that Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon has signaled opposition to a broad Knesset override of the High Court while supporting a narrow override just relating to migrants, Faulkman said that Kulanu was still ready to support a more legally palatable initiative.
Meanwhile, it was unclear whether such a compromise could be reached after a spokesman for Mandelblit implied that he did not merely object to the current initiatives, but would likely object to any override of the High Court without counterbalancing moves.
In the past, Mandelblit has said that he thinks an override of the High Court is unnecessary, but that he would support one if it required a large majority of 70 MKs and had other counterbalance suggestions included from the court.
On Thursday, Mandelblit said that removing the migrant issue from the High Court’s authority would create a vast black hole in the Israeli legal system.
In a statement confirming his “vehement opposition” to the bill, he said that the idea of stating that laws relating to migrants can violate the constitutional rules of proportionality and rationality has another name: eliminating any individual rights for migrants
While Mandelblit has supported other initiatives to further the government’s goal of getting most of the remaining migrants to leave, he said that this bill went way too far and would be a slippery slope to permitting the government to isolate specific groups as having no rights.
He said the bill would utterly break with the foundations underlying Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Further, he said that the bill would violate Israel’s commitments to international treaties dealing with refugees and bring down unprecedented criticism by fellow democracies.
Kulanu has tried to present itself as the protector of the High Court within the coalition. In those cases where it has gone against what the court wanted, Mandelblit had usually given the bill his approval.
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