Bill limiting Supreme Court set to advance

Dershowitz: Legislation is a ‘tragedy’

A statue of Supreme Court President Miriam Naor stands outside the Supreme Court, August 31, 2017 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A statue of Supreme Court President Miriam Naor stands outside the Supreme Court, August 31, 2017
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is scheduled to vote on Sunday to advance a bill that would limit the power of the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett to postpone the vote in order to obtain the backing of Kulanu and the Supreme Court on a compromise proposal, however, Bennett insisted that the vote take place on Sunday.
Likud officials said Netanyahu supports the bill and would not veto it. The officials accused Bennett of harming chances of the bill passing into law by refusing to compromise.
“The only one harming the bill is the one who cannot stop seeking headlines and maneuvering politically,” a Likud official said.
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said they expect the vote to take place and that the bill will pass by a wide margin. But they said there is still a chance that a compromise could be reached during a meeting of coalition heads Sunday morning.
If the bill is advanced by the committee, Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon is expected to appeal it to the cabinet as a whole. Netanyahu decides when bills are brought to the cabinet, so he could delay the bill’s advancement.
American legal scholar Alan Dershowitz pleaded with Netanyahu to not advance the bill, in an interview with Channel 1 legal correspondent Tamar Almog. Dershowitz, who is close to Netanyahu, warned that limiting the power of the Supreme Court would harm Israeli public-diplomacy efforts.
“The Israeli judiciary is the jewel of Israeli democracy,” Dershowitz said. “When I make the case for Israel around the world, I always focus on the strength of the judiciary. It would be a terrible tragedy if its independence would be in any way diminished by the actions of the Knesset. I hope the prime minister will not allow politics to harm the rule of law.”
The bill was also criticized at a demonstration held Saturday night in Tel Aviv that was organized by the Zionist Union and Meretz. At the demonstration, Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay called upon Kahlon to stop the bill.
“This is not the time to sit on the fence and say that everything will be OK,” Gabbay said. “Democracies have been destroyed when the majority sat on the fence and said that everything would be OK. This is the time to fight for the voice of the majority of the public to be heard.”