The High Court of Justice risks undermining democracy if it rules to strike down the law to limit the reasonableness clause, the Likud said Tuesday evening after the court spent the day hearing petitions on the subject.The hearing began in the morning and went on into the evening, seeing the High Court hear arguments for and against striking down the law. All 15 High Court justices were present to debate whether or not the court would strike down a Basic Law for the first time in the nation’s history.“The Knesset gets its authority from the people,” it said. “The government gets its authority from the Knesset. The court gets its authority from the Basic Laws the Knesset legislates. If the court cancels a Basic Law, it turns itself into the governing body instead of the people. Such an extreme move will undermine democracy.”While some Likud MKs have hinted or explicitly said that they would not respect the High Court’s ruling if it struck down the law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously refrained from making a comment on this.
'People's will expressed in basic laws'
Justice Minister Yariv Levin did, however, voice a similar sentiment earlier in the morning, saying the High Court is acting without authority and is critically damaging Israel’s democracy and the authority of the Knesset.“Even past High Court justices agreed – the people rule, and the people’s will is expressed in Basic Laws that are legislated by the Knesset,” he said. “The hearing on the possibility of striking down Basic Laws, which are the top of the Israeli legislative pyramid, and the chance of declaring the prime minister incapacitated, are a critical hit to the rule of people.“Until now, despite particularly problematic judicial activism, there was at least one agreed-upon basis – the court respected the Basic Laws. This is the base that protected democracy in Israel. The responsibility to protect this common base is now at the door of the court.”Likud MK Dan Illouz also made a similar comment, saying “Today, the State of Israel’s big test begins. Democracy is not the rule of judges but the rule of the people. The High Court must act responsibly and prevent Israel from being led toward a legislative crisis. The judges must not crush the Knesset and the separation of government branches.”
In response, opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted that “the High Court isn’t debating a Basic Law this morning.”He claimed that the law to limit the reasonableness clause does not qualify as a Basic Law, saying that it is instead “an irresponsible document on which someone wrote ‘Basic Law’ and since then has demanded it be treated as holy writings.”He added that one of the reasons the law wasn’t a Basic Law was the way it was legislated.The law “didn’t go through the government at all and was managed with a violent, hasty, careless, flashy, and unstoppable procedure,” he said.Later in the morning, during the hearing, lawyer Yitzhak Beret, who was representing the government’s legal council said that there were indeed some issues with the legislation process, although not to a degree that justifies striking down the law.Likud MK Tally Gotliv attacked the comment, saying that instead, he should have told the court that “the Knesset has the right to rein in the High Court’s power, which exceeded the authority decided by law.”Yesh Atid MK Ron Katz responded, “In the same breath, let us remember that MKs weren’t allowed to talk, relevant professionals were not invited, nonsensical times were set for speakers, and the votes were handled like a clearance sale.”