Deputy A-G: Don’t like so many basic law changes, but may let slide

Key to avoid fourth elections.

Raz Nizri, deputy Attorney General speaks at the joint Knesset and Constitution Committee meeting (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Raz Nizri, deputy Attorney General speaks at the joint Knesset and Constitution Committee meeting
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri told a special Knesset committee addressing the proposed changes to the Basic Laws required by the impending coalition deal that his office was lukewarm toward the many changes, but would likely let them slide to avoid fourth elections.
His comments were highly significant as they signaled that despite the many legal problems and the objections of the opposition which the coalition deal has raised, the state’s apolitical lawyers will try to shepherd the deal through.
The support of the attorney-general’s office will likely go a long way towards also winning support in the High Court of Justice despite a series of petitions filed against the coalition deal and its consequences.
Nizri said, “We are not addressing whether the law is possible or not possible – that is something which is within your realm as the Knesset. Amending the Basic Law with a crisis situation law is not a desirable outcome and the High Court of Justice has also addressed this.”
“However, in this situation, at the end of the day, it is better that the change happen by virtue of a crisis situation law. It is obvious that the situation arises from the fact that we stand after a third round of elections in which there was no decisive choice from the electorate” regarding one of the two major blocs forming a government without the other, said the deputy attorney-general.
Similarly, committee lawyer Gur Blai said that such significant changes to the Basic Laws would require extensive drawn-out deliberations in any normal situation, but that he understood the unique sensitivity of the moment in trying to form a government.
He said that the committee’s legal team would ensure that it provided quick commentary to the committee in any area where it saw loopholes or potential problems.
Another point that Nizri noted was, “We are addressing a private proposed law, and usually when a Basic Law is being considered – something which is a substantial change – it is brought forward as a government-sponsored law.”
“Since it is a private law, at this stage, we in the attorney-general’s office are not usually required to delve into the details, other than during the course of Knesset hearings as it becomes necessary to take a position on specific clauses,” he said.
Nizri stated, “The proposed law anchors into law clauses of the coalition deal. There are substantial changes to the Basic Law on Government.”
Because there is no permanent government, even the combined Likud and Blue and White support likely cannot give the proposed legal changes the elevated status of a government-sponsored law.
To avoid a petition on that technical point to the High Court (the filed petitions are on more substantive and political issues), Blue and White brought the law as a private law within the special Knesset committee.
Nizri’s comments were important for him to again show that the procedure was irregular and that normally Basic Laws should only be changed after a government is already formed, but that, due to the unique circumstances, his office would do what was necessary to bring the law along.
Yesh Atid-Telem attacked the process as unconstitutional and unethical, while complaining that the Knesset lawyers had met privately before the hearing with the Blue and White sponsors to reach an agreed upon language that would shorten the discussion.
The soon to be lead opposition party, said that such coordination was not permitted for a private law.
Yemina MK Ayelet Shaked said she had a number of reservations about the legal changes, but that most importantly, it should only be passed as a temporary crisis situation change to the Basic Laws and not a permanent one.
Further, she said that the majority for reversing the law should be the standard 61 for a Basic Law and not a 75 MK majority, which is under consideration to make it harder to undo the changes.