(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut stared down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday into pushing off a scheduled cabinet meeting vote on limiting the court’s powers as a price to meet with her to discuss the issue.
Netanyahu asked Hayut for a meeting about the issue after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said his support for any change was conditional on a negotiated process with the judicial branch fully involved.
But Hayut replied she would only meet with him if he pushed off the meeting – appearing to view the meeting as a metaphorical gun to the head of the judicial branch.
The Likud and Bayit Yehudi parties fought over the significance of the postponed vote and whether it showed a fear of conflict with Hayut.
Previously, at least portions of the coalition were pushing for a bill which allowed the Knesset to override the Supreme Court with a vote of only 60 MKs whereas Mandelblit would oppose any bill that required a vote of less than 70 MKs.
Hayut is believed to want no bill or a vote of 80 MKs, but might be willing to come down from that number – though not to 60 MKs.
Former justice Elyakim Rubinstein has previously told The Jerusalem Post he would support such a bill with a vote of 70 MKs like Mandelblit.
The general move for a Knesset veto comes against the backdrop of the government wanting to carry out an African migrant policy, which might violate the court’s limits on deportation or detention as well as years of frustration on the Right at previous court interventions.
Various justices and liberal legal scholars have generally said they would support a Knesset veto of the court in the context in which the Knesset also adopts a constitution which would protect the rule of law and minority rights.