Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that his party will stop voting with the coalition and he will initiate an election if a bill that would limit the power of the Supreme Court is not brought to a vote in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation by May 6.
Hours after Bennett issued the threat, Netanyahu tweeted a promise to advance the bill.
The bill was supposed to come to a vote this coming Sunday but was postponed by a week at the request of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, who will be meeting that day with Netanyahu and with Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi ally, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Hayut is expected to demand that any legislation permitting the Knesset to override the court’s decisions to strike down laws require a special majority of 70 or 80 of the 120 MKs.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
at his office in the capital, Bennett called the Supreme Court override bill “the most important decision being made in 25 years.
“Over the past 25 years, the Supreme Court has radically encroached on the government’s authority to govern,” Bennett said. “Time and again it cancels bills the Knesset legislates. When you want to expel a terrorist who murdered, they say you can’t. When you want to take key security steps, they cancel them. When you want to pass tax bills, they stop it. The Supreme Court is not a government on top of a government.”
Bennett, who will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday
, said it was important that the voters get to select their government without it getting overruled.
“The Supreme Court should defend human rights when they are extremely damaged or when there is tyranny, but they turned themselves into a second opinion authority,” Bennett said. “I’ll remind the Supreme Court that Israelis elected a government to govern, that’s our job, and if they don’t like the way we do it, they’ll replace us. This change is overdue.”
Bennett noted that Netanyahu obligated himself to pass the legislation when he signed the coalition deal in 2015.
“He signed a written agreement with me, explicitly agreeing to pass this bill, and promises must be kept,” Bennett said.
The government’s liaison to the Knesset, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), told Israel Radio from Guatemala that Bayit Yehudi’s threat was ridiculous and mocked the public. Likud sources would not rule out that Netanyahu could use Bayit Yehudi’s threat to initiate an early election.
Bennett said he hoped Netanyahu would not advance elections due to his criminal investigations.
“Toppling a good national government for no good reason is unacceptable,” Bennett said The proposed change in Knesset-Judiciary relations came up in recent weeks as the government searches for a resolution to the issue of African migrants who have entered Israel seeking political asylum.
The announcement marks yet another possible crisis in the coalition. Last month, the coalition was poised to fall over disagreements on an IDF draft bill that would have helped haredim (ultra-Orthodox) avoid army service; Shas and United Torah Judaism threatened that if the measure were not passed, they would not vote in favor of the 2019 state budget.
The full interview will be published in Friday’s Jerusalem Post
Magazine.Shoshana Kranish and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report