The votes that took place in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee led by MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) to approve the controversial "reasonableness standard bill" were a "one-sided and oppressive move that harms the citizens of Israel and tears apart the people," opposition leader and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid and National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz said in a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon.
The comments were made following a tumultuous committee session during which opposition MKs accused Rothman of unlawfully speeding up the legislative process.
"There is another way. Agreements can be reached and changes to the judicial system can be made for the benefit of the people of Israel and not for tyranny of the majority and corrupt appointments,' Lapid and Gantz said, adding that the bill was an "introduction to corruption" and was intended not to defend citizens but to defend politicians.
"[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu knows that it is possible to reach agreements that will ensure stability to the economy, security, and foreign relations. Today too, he chose the one-sided path. Netanyahu continues to dismantle Israeli society," the two concluded.
What is the controversial Reasonableness Standard bill?
The controversial Reasonableness Standard bill aims to cancel the Supreme Court's ability to strike down decisions by the government or specific ministers based on their being "beyond the limits of reasonableness."
The bill's proponents argue that it gives the Supreme Court the amorphic power to set the limits of "reasonableness" based on its own judgement. Its detractors, including the attorney-general, argue that the reasonableness standard is an important tool to fight corrupt appointments and decisions, and that corruption would increase if it is blocked.
The bill now heads to the Knesset plenum for its first reading, which likely will take place next week.
A number of NGO put out statements condemning the bill after it was approved in the committee on Tuesday, with some pledging to challenge it in court.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a statement that the Reasonableness Standard was sometimes "the final barrier between a government that abuses its authority," and was important in oversight over decisions regarding public interests such as the environment, urban planning, the quality of government and the rule of law.
The NGO Darkenu filed a motion to the Supreme Court saying that it had turned to Netanyahu and Rothman and requested that they refrain from advancing the law, which it said could "undo the foundations of Israeli democracy" and which it claimed would be struck down by the court. The NGO said that the motion was intended to serve as proof that they had tried other avenues before challenging the law in the court, which they promised to do the moment it passed into law.