With the Knesset about to enter a recess, a small window of opportunity is available to the coalition and opposition to act on the judicial reform.
The Knesset is set to break on April 2, which leaves it about a week of work days. The Knesset approved on Wednesday three additional sessions for all the legislation that it wants to enact before the break.
The coalition decided on Monday to focus on what is perceived by many political leaders and activists as the most important part of the judicial reform, the Judicial Selection Committee Bill.
The coalition decided on Monday to focus on what is considered by many political leaders and activists as the most important part of the judicial reform, the Judicial Selection Committee Bill.
Coalition members likely need to take into account not only the legitimacy of the bill in relation to the pace of its passing, but also concerns about providing the High Court of Justice impetus to strike down the law on improper procedural grounds.
As of Thursday, the bill was with the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee in the final stages of preparation before presentation to the Knesset for its second and third readings. There is still much to do to pass it into law. Before those two different readings, the committee needs to vote on the bill, and the last of the reservations to the article must be voted on.
Some 5,400 reservations were submitted to the committee this week, and by the end of the panel’s marathon session late Wednesday night, only 1,900 had been voted on. Reservations are issues with the bill that are attached to the bill for the second reading. The official who submitted the reservation explains the challenge, and the Knesset votes on the matter, further lengthening the legislative process.
The committee’s legal adviser, Dr. Gur Bligh, noted that sometimes reservations are used as a filibuster, an accusation leveled by some reform proponents due to the sheer amount of these challenges. To counter the plethora of reservations, Law Committee chairman Simcha Rothman used a procedure to group them together by issue. The opposition protests this, likely less upset about the inability to discuss their arguments and more about the reduced impact of their filibuster.
The other recourse that the anti-reformist camp has against the bill besides filibusters is protest.
Thursday saw an escalation in demonstrations in a “Day of Paralysis” designed to close city arteries. All aspects of the judicial reform protests have been intensified as the window closes.
Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter was struck slightly with a flag, and the intensity of the protests were revealed by arrest of leading protest figure, physicist Shikma Bressler.
Reports of refusals by IDF reservists continued to flow in throughout the week. Diaspora Jewish leaders from the Jewish Agency issued a further letter urging compromise, and major international jurists from several countries, including former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler announced that they were flying in to participate in a conference that would serve as a “last ditch effort to warn the members of the Knesset and the public in Israel” about the faults of the reform.
The last-minute protest pressure looks set to intensify as demonstrators hope to make the situation politically unviable for coalition MKs and ministers.
The coalition and opposition will likely continue to race to achieve their objectives as the window closes, pushing with an increasing vigor the smaller the gap. That is, of course, unless one side relents to the efforts of the other.