The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee led by Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman will continue at full pace this week to debate the first part of the government's judicial reforms, after the coalition rejected President Isaac Herzog's long-awaited compromise out of hand on Wednesday evening.
The committee will meet this week on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a statement issued on Thursday.
The committee is currently debating two changes to the Basic Law: The Judiciary for their second and third readings on the Knesset floor, after which they will become law.
The first change gives the governing coalition an automatic majority in the Judicial Appointments Committee, and will thus give the government the power to appoint all of Israel's judges at all levels, including four High Court of Justice appointments that are expected in the coming year.
The second change is that The High Court of Justice will not be able to hear cases against Basic Laws. This, for example, would block the court from hearing appeals against the Deri Law, which is a Basic Law amendment intended to enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reappoint Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri as Interior and Health Minister. The High Court forced Netanyahu to fire Deri in January after it ruled that the appointment was "extremely unreasonable" due both to the Shas chairman's criminal history, and to his misleading the court in January 2022 that he would leave politics, in order to receive a lenient plea bargain.
The coalition has not yet announced when it intends to bring the judicial reform bill to the Knesset floor for its second and third readings. However, it is widely expected to do so before the Knesset recesses for a month beginning April 2, unless the coalition decides to delay it as part of a compromise.
The coalition deemed the president's proposal "one-sided, biased and unacceptable" soon after it was presented on Wednesday night. However, Netanyahu himself and a number of other senior Likud members indicated last week that the judicial reform bills would be watered down in order to gain broader consensus.
The coalition reportedly is not willing to compromise on its control over the Judicial Appointments Committee. This alone could topple any comprehensive compromises, as opposition party leaders including National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz, as well as many other senior figures and organizations that oppose the reform, have said that this will lead to politicization of the judicial system and the loss of its independence.
Parallel to the judicial reform bill, the coalition will continue to advance a number of other controversial bills this week.
These include the "Gifts Law," which would enable the prime minister to receive funding for medical and legal purposes, including the approximately NIS 4 million that was raised via crowdfunding in order to pay his legal fees; the "Incapacitation Law," which would block Israel's attorney-general from ruling Netanyahu unfit for service due to his possible violation of a conflict-of-interest agreement; and the "Hametz Law", which allows hospital heads to bar leavened bread from entering hospitals during Passover.