Peretz warns of crisis over Friedmann's anti-court bill

Labor Party chief says bill violates coalition agreement that ensures the status quo on the power of the courts.

amir peretz 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
amir peretz 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Amir Peretz threatened a coalition crisis on Tuesday over Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's bill restricting the power of the High Court of Justice. Friedmann's bill, which he intends to propose next week, would limit the court to nullifying Knesset legislation that violates the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity and the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation. He made the announcement during a meeting of the Ministerial Legislation Committee, which determines the government's policy toward bills proposed by government ministries and private MKs. Peretz met with Friedmann on Monday and told him that Labor would vigorously oppose the bill, which he said violated a clause in the coalition agreement ensuring the maintenance of the status quo on the power of the courts. "The bill is against the defense minister's outlook," Peretz's spokesman said. "Coalition crises are things that develop. Whether this will lead to one is a matter of speculation." Other Labor ministers also said they opposed the bill, but they criticized Peretz for repeatedly issuing empty threats. The bill was also criticized by Kadima MKs, including Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, who submitted a very different proposal on the same matter when he was justice minister. Sheetrit vowed to appeal if the bill passed in the Ministerial Legislation Committee. "The High Court of Justice is the final fortress to protect the basic rights of citizens from being violated," Sheetrit said. "The Court does not interfere in legislation unless it is necessary and legitimate." Friedmann told the legislation committee that his bill would preserve the constitutional oversight of the court on Knesset legislation. "We must determine an appropriate framework that would enable the Knesset to approve the legislation again after making necessary changes," Friedmann said. "This change in the system will grant legitimacy to the decisions of the High Court while also raising the stature of the Knesset."