Danon: Israeli Judicial reforms should not be passed hastily

Danny Danon: Israeli ministerial legal advisers' jobs are to help the minister set policy and advise him, but not set policy instead of the minister.

 Danny Danon (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Danny Danon
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The judicial system reforms should not be rushed through the Knesset and should be carried out with as large a consensus as possible, Likud MK and former ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week.

"The process matters. It needs to be orderly and enable dialogue, because the more open and orderly we do it, the longer it will survive. If we do it hastily, a future government will use its majority in order to cancel it," he added.

"The process matters. It needs to be orderly and enable dialogue, because the more open and orderly we do it, the longer it will survive. If we do it hastily, a future government will use its majority in order to cancel it."

Danny Danon

Rhetoric on both sides flared up during the past week, and Danon's message was one of moderacy.

"I believe that in dialogue we will discover that there are a lot of things that we agree on. So I say, let's focus first on what we agree on, put them aside, and only then arrive at the differences. While there will be things we will not agree on, at least we will reach them after the process of dialogue and consensus."

 Danny Danon and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Danny Danon and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Danny Danon: Israel's judicial system needs to be changed, but carefully

Regarding the law that was debated this week that would reduce the power of the attorney-general and ministerial legal advisers, Danon said he agreed that the current situation needs to be changed. The fact that legal advisers cannot be removed is problematic. The attorney-general and legal advisers should have proper qualifications and should go through a vetting process because the job is important and sensitive, but it cannot be that the legal adviser takes charge of the office.

"I saw cases where legal advisers were very strong in the offices and set policy. Their jobs are to help the minister set policy and advise him, but not set policy instead of the minister," Danon said.

"I saw cases where legal advisers were very strong in the offices and set policy. Their jobs are to help the minister set policy and advise him, but not set policy instead of the minister."

Danny Danon

In any case, at the end of the day, Danon said, no law comes out at the end of the legislative process exactly how it went in.

"The essence will not change, we know where we want to go. But I am sure that the result will not be identical to the one that entered the process," he said.

The interview was held two days before the High Court of Justice's ruling on Wednesday to strike down Shas leader Arye Deri's ability to serve as a minister.

In an interview on KAN Radio on Thursday morning, Danon sounded more hawkish. While he did not directly contradict the positions mentioned above, he said that disqualifying Deri will serve as "fuel" for the coalition to push through the reform. Menachem Begin in 1979 famously said that there were "judges in Jerusalem," but it was time to realize that there were "legislators in Jerusalem" as well, Danon said.

Danon on KAN argued that had Deri been a member of opposition leader Yair Lapid's government, the judges would have found the "necessary arguments" to approve him. He accused the judges of all being part of the same frame of mind, and that the High Court needed to be more diverse.

Danon in the Post interview on Monday also addressed the initiative that came up during the coalition negotiations to cancel the grandchild clause in the Law of Return, which allows people with one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to Israel, even if they are not Jewish according to Halacha.

Danon acknowledged the problem of non-Jews coming to Israel mostly from former USSR countries in order to take advantage of the government's generous immigration benefits, and believed that the Likud's coalition partners who were pushing to cancel the grandchild clause had good intentions. But they did not always know enough about the sensitivities of the Jewish diaspora, and their sweeping statements could push away millions of Jews, Danon said.

"Israel's Jewish character is important to us as it is the nation of the Jewish people, but to make such a declaration you are offending millions, and this has damaging consequences – we defend them, they defend us and support us."

Danny Danon

"Israel's Jewish character is important to us as it is the nation of the Jewish people, but to make such a declaration you are offending millions, and this has damaging consequences – we defend them, they defend us and support us. In the UN I defended not just Israel but the entire Jewish people. When there was an operation in Gaza, Jews in New York and Los Angeles were attacked in the streets," he said. It is Israel's interest to maintain this reciprocal relationship, he explained.

"When you make such declarations, the Jews of the world begin to wonder, 'am I eligible or not? Do I belong or not?'" he said.

The solution instead was to take care of the specific issue but without making damaging changes to the Law of Return, Danon said.

He added that Netanyahu in the coalition negotiations wisely did not make commitments on the issue but rather agreed to set up a committee in order to solve the problem, such as by awarding residency, but not citizenship, to non-Jews who come to Israel.

During the coalition negotiations, Danon said that many people expressed their concerns, and he and others held many briefings in order to stress that Netanyahu, and not his partners, was at the head of the government.

Danon also said that no matter the rhetoric, what really matters is policy and actions, and that is what the government should be judged for.