The judicial reform reasonableness standard bill moved to a new stage on Monday as the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee began a session to discuss and vote on the 27,676 reservations for the legislation.
The sheer amount of reservations, which was a record amount, made it difficult to process and engage with them, a legal adviser said. The members were reminded that the purpose of the reservations was to hone bills, and while it could be used as a filibuster, there were limits. She suggested that the committee either shorten the discussion time, or that they organize the reservations by subject and discuss and vote on them in blocs.
In past reform committee sessions, Law Committee Chairman MK Simcha Rothman has chosen to group and hold votes on the reservations by subject due to the sheer volume of submissions. Rothman set the question for the preferred method to the opposition.
He agreed to adjourn the meeting and reconvene after the opposition had decided its new position after faction meetings and the Knesset plenum proceedings on Monday night.
Labor MK Gilad Kariv said the reservations needed to be reviewed separately, and these proposals would “change the rules of the game in play.” Ra’am MK Mansour Abbas said there were so many reservations because the bill changed much in society and life, and these alterations needed to be discussed. Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar said the amount of submissions was reflective of just how controversial the bill was.
After a method is chosen, panel members will justify the reservations and vote on them. If passed, they will be adopted as amendments to the text. If not, they can be attached to the bill for the Knesset to vote on.
The session began an hour late, with Rothman accusing the opposition of failing to participate in good faith and in a productive manner to work on the legislation. Kariv said this was a lie.
The opposition said before the session that the committee did not hold substantial discussions required for the bill, which would amend the Basic Law: The Judiciary. They argued that given the potential harm to Israel’s economy, security, and society, there should have been more in-depth discussion. Yesh Atid MK Yoav Segalovitz said that experts like Prof. Yoav Dotan and Prof. Yuval Elsbashan had found the bill lacking.
Students submit reservations
Student protesters said they had worked with the advisers of Yesh Atid MKs Yorai Lahav Hertzanu, Moshe Tur-paz, and Segalovitz to submit reservations before the Monday morning deadline.
"This historic mobilization of over a thousand activists, who do not know each other, for the common goal of delaying anti-democratic legislation, is the embodiment of civil democracy," said student protester spokesperson Nadav Salzberger. "When the government behaves unreasonably, the citizens mobilize to put a mirror to them."
The bill would prevent the use of the reasonableness standard against administrative decisions by the government, prime minister, and ministers. The reasonableness standard is a common law doctrine used by courts to strike down government administrative decisions deemed extremely beyond what a reasonable and responsible authority would decide.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli addressed the committee, saying the reasonableness standard was a democratic tool for protecting against abuse of power and corruption.
“The cause here on the table has become a symbol of the struggle for the soul of Israel as Jewish and democratic,” said Michaeli. “It is not too late to stop and recalculate the course. We are not against anyone, but we have to fight together for this state.”