Meridor threatens to quit if High Court harmed

Deputy PM says he returned to politics in part to stop attacks on court; Netanyahu says he'll oppose bills that harm court.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor 311 (R) (photo credit: David W Cerny / Reuters)
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor 311 (R)
(photo credit: David W Cerny / Reuters)
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor vowed on Saturday night that he would quit his cabinet post if bills were passed into law that would limit the power of the High Court of Justice.
Speaking on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program, Meridor singled out a bill that would require candidates to serve on the High Court to face hearings in the Knesset Law Committee as well as Likud MK Danny Danon’s bill to limit the ability of foreign governments to fund High Court petitions filed by nongovernmental organizations.
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Danon’s bill is set to be voted on by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
“One of the reasons I returned to politics was to stop the attacks on the High Court of Justice that started in the last [Knesset] term,” Meridor said.
“There has been a wave of attacks aimed at making Israel different – less liberal and more nationalist. I think we’re fighting for the spirit of our country, for its existence, our freedom, our liberty, freedom of expression, freedom to protest, and for human dignity.”
Danon’s bill would “set Israel decades backward,” he said.
“I returned to the government in order to stop such bills,” Meridor reiterated.
“There is no doubt that I won’t be part of a government that advances such bills, and I don’t think [this government] will.”
Meridor noted that he had already left a Netanyahu-led government when he quit his post as finance minister in June 1997. But he said he did not expect to leave the current Netanyahu government any time soon.
He said that most of the controversial bills haven’t passed, because he and his allies had stopped them.
“These bills won’t be stopped by themselves, so if there’s a reason for me and my friends being in the government, it’s this struggle,” he said.
“If I’m not there, there will be a surrender to the bad spirit and everyone will be sorry,” he said of attacks on the court.
Meridor has faced criticism in recent weeks from doves in the Knesset and media who have pressured him to resign.
“More and more, Meridor is returning to his traditional role as Mitzi the Cat from the old Hartzufim puppet show who whines but remains frozen in his place,” dovish Yediot Aharonot columnist Sima Kadmon wrote on Friday.
“People are wondering what he is still doing there and whether he returned to politics for this.”
The Prime Minister’s Office released statements on Saturday night noting that Binyamin Netanyahu would oppose Danon’s bill and any legislation that could harm the court.
Netanyahu’s office said he opposed the bill that would have required hearings for High Court candidates, despite impressions that he supported it, since he did not speak about it during the recent shiva mourning period for his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi.
Danon responded to Meridor by saying that he was free to leave the Likud if he didn’t support its policies.
“We won’t turn the Likud into a branch of Kadima,” Danon said.
“Whoever doesn’t accept the majority position in the Likud should reach a conclusion about his place in politics.”