Ultra-Orthodox parties to thwart High Court override bill

Likud MK and coalition chair Miki Zohar has stated that he would recommend PM Netanyahu support opposition bill to institute Knesset override of High Court decisions, threatening new coalition crisis

Shas leader Arye Deri (right) and UTJ leader Ya'acov Litzman (far left) attend a meeting in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Shas leader Arye Deri (right) and UTJ leader Ya'acov Litzman (far left) attend a meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shas and United Torah Judaism ultra-Orthodox parties have said they will not back a bill to institute a High Court of Justice override mechanism in the Knesset, effectively ending the chances that it will pass.
The parties said on Sunday they would not support the opposition bill being advanced by Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked, expected to come to a vote in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, in order to keep the current coalition together.
On Saturday night, Likud MK and coalition chairman Miki Zohar said he would tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support an opposition bill to create the High Court override, a measure which the Blue and White party vehemently opposes.
Zohar’s comments threatened to create another severe coalition crisis in a government already badly destabilized by a serious dispute over the state budget, which could lead to new elections, and two damaging fights within the government over previous opposition Knesset bills and proposals which divided the coalition.
Even if the Likud were to support Shaked’s bill, without the support of the 16 ultra-Orthodox MKs it faces almost no chance of passing.
“Representatives of the ultra-Orthodox factions have stated that they are committed to the unity of the coalition and to preventing elections, and are working to pass a state budget and fighting the coronavirus epidemic,” Shas and UTJ said in a joint statement Sunday afternoon.
The ultra-Orthodox parties have in the past expressed support for legislation to override High Court decisions, due to past decisions by the court striking down blanket IDF service exemptions for yeshiva students and rulings on religion and state matters that damaged the Orthodox monopoly over religion and state matters.
Several senior UTJ and Shas MKs have in recent weeks expressed frustration with Netanyahu and concern that he is seeking new elections despite the health and economic crisis the country is experiencing.
Following the joint statement by Shas and UTJ, Justice Minister and Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn attacked Shaked on Twitter, saying that “the only thing that interests you is trampling on the rule of law and democracy,” adding “It won’t happen.”
Shaked responded in kind, attacking Blue and White over the large number of ministers in the government it is part of and failures in the management of the COVID-19 epidemic.
“Spare me the slogans. The override clause does not damage democracy,” Shaked replied on Twitter.