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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann announced on Sunday he will present a bill next week restricting the power of the High Court of Justice to nullify Knesset legislation which violates the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity and the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation.
Friedmann made the announcement during a meeting of the Ministerial Legislation Committee which determines the government's policy towards bills proposed by government ministries and private MKs.
Sunday's meeting included a discussion on two private member's bills dealing with the currently unrestricted right of the High Court to nullify legislation which it regards as violating statutory human rights.
According to a proposal by Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines, it would require a panel of nine justices to nullify a Knesset law. The second proposal, initiated by Estherina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu,) prohibited the court from nullifying Knesset legislation altogether.
During the meeting of the Interministerial Committee meeting on Sunday, Friedmann said that Tartman's bill had won broad support among MKs of many of the Knesset factions "because the High Court had unilaterally determined the extent of its power to intervene in Knesset legislation and, as the years went by, had expanded that power."
He said he would bring to the committee a government bill based on the system in Canada for protecting human rights. According to the Canadian system, he explained, the Supreme Court may nullify a law and it is immediately nullified. However, for the following six months, parliament is entitled to make the necessary changes in the legislation and approve it again.
Friedmann told the committee, "We must preserve the constitutional oversight of the High Court of Justice on Knesset legislation. However, we must also determine an appropriate framework which will enable the Knesset to approve the legislation again after making the necessary changes in it. This change in the system will grant legitimacy to the decisions of the High Court while also raising the stature of the Knesset."
However, Paz-Pines rejected Friedmann's proposal. In a statement issued after the meeting, he said, "In a democratic state, one should respect the principle of the rule of law whereby the court is the supreme interpreter of legislation. We must not deny the court the right to nullify laws that contradict the basic [human rights] laws."