The legislative process over the government's controversial judicial reform is scheduled to continue this week at full speed, despite President Isaac Herzog's call on Thursday night for it to be thrown out in favor of a more balanced proposal.
The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will begin on Sunday preparing the first part of the reform for its second and third readings. This part gives the government and coalition a majority in the Judicial Appointments Committee, thus giving it control over the appointment of all of the country’s judges. It also blocks the High Court from hearing appeals against Basic Laws.
The committee will hold sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a schedule it published last week.
In the legislative process, a bill becomes law after it passes its second and third readings on the Knesset floor. If the committee finishes its preparations this week, the first provisions could pass into law as soon as next week.
Other controversial laws
In addition, a special committee led by Likud MK Ofir Katz will continue on Sunday to prepare two other controversial laws for their first reading.
The first law is an amendment to Basic Law: The Government, and will bar the High Court from intervening in the appointment of ministers, thus paving the way for Shas chairman MK Arye Deri to return as health minister and interior minister.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Deri from these positions in January after the High Court ruled that his appointment was “extremely unreasonable.”
The second law is one that will block the attorney-general from announcing a prime minister “incapacitated” in their position. The law counters an appeal to the High Court demanding that Netanyahu be declared incapacitated due to the alleged violation of his conflict-of-interest agreement.
Netanyahu is undergoing a criminal trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and is prohibited from dealing with any matter that would affect his trial, including the government’s judicial reforms.
In a harsh speech delivered on Thursday night, Herzog said the judicial reform, as it was presented, is unacceptable and needed to be replaced, and that coalition and opposition factions would be responsible for any ensuing chaos if they fail to reach a broad agreement through negotiation.
The president warned that the legislation being prepared for readings in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee “is wrong, predatory and dismantles our democratic foundations, and therefore it must be replaced with another [set of legislation], an agreed upon outline – and immediately.”
He added that in discussions that he has been holding behind the scenes over the past two months, supporters and detractors of the reform were close to arriving at an agreed-upon compromise. Herzog is likely to present this compromise in the near future, perhaps even this week.