Final vote on ‘Grunis Bill’ postponed

Elkin denies problem getting a majority, says he is “reconsidering” bill that would pave way for Asher Dan Grunis to serve as Supreme Court president.

Israeli Supreme Court 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
Israeli Supreme Court 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
The final Knesset vote on the “Grunis Bill” was postponed yet again on Monday, following a planned filibuster attempt from the opposition.
Coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), however, said the postponement is a result of his “reconsidering” the legislation.
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The initiative, proposed by MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union), reduces the minimum tenure for a Supreme Court or National Labor Court president from three to two years, reversing an order from 2007 by then-justice minister Daniel Friedmann.
Opposition factions, with the exception of National Union, registered 370 suggested amendments to the bill, which would mean 18.5 hours of speeches.
Although MKs were unlikely to actually discuss the legislation for that long, cutting the speeches short would still be problematic for the coalition because of the difficulty in predicting the exact hour of the vote. This, in turn, would make it difficult for coalition factions to make sure that the requisite number of MKs are in the plenum in order to pass the bills.
The second and third (final) readings of the bill in the Knesset plenum were supposed to take place last week, but coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) acquiesced to Katz’s request to postpone the vote, as the National Union MK was abroad. This week, Elkin withdrew the bill once again.
Coalition sources say Elkin’s actions are due to the possible filibuster.
Elkin himself, however, said that he did not think he would have a problem finding a majority to pass the “Grunis Bill,” and denied that the filibuster would be problematic.
He also added that he is “reconsidering” Katz’s bill, along with the “Bar Association Bill,” which would regulate the Bar’s representative to the Judicial Selection Committee, both of which passed their first readings in the Knesset. Elkin refused to elaborate on his considerations.
Katz expressed confidence that the postponement will not affect the eventual fate of the “Grunis Bill,” saying that the entire government, as well as Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, supports his initiative.
“Now, everyone understands that a new wind is blowing through the Supreme Court, which will bring back its connection to the people, and slowly, slowly return the public’s faith in the court system,” Katz said.
The opposition has criticized the initiative, accusing Katz of proposing a “personal bill,” because it would allow Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis, an opponent of judicial activism, to replace Beinisch as court president when she retires at age 70 in February. Politicians on the right believe that Grunis’s views on the judiciary make him less likely to order the dismantling of West Bank homes and to go against other decisions made by state authorities.
A Kadima spokesman said that his party, which registered most of the complaints, is “very satisfied that this personal bill, which is part of a package of anti-democratic bills” was postponed.
He added that Kadima will continue to fight the Netanyahu government’s “evil attempts to change the face of Israel for the worse.”