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Critics Fear Erosion Of Checks And Balances As Israel Restricts Supreme Court’s ‘Reasonableness’ Standard

Israeli Knesset Passes Partisan Bill to Restrict Supreme Court's Use of 'Reasonableness' Standard

The Knesset overnight Monday passed along partisan lines a bill to restrict the use of the “reasonableness” standard by the Supreme Court.The bill was advanced by a vote of 64-56.

The legislation would bar “reasonableness” as a legal justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

Critics say the standard is legally vague and has been used by the court to encroach upon the government’s authority. Opponents say the bill will erode Israel’s system of checks and balances and lead to an abuse of power.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that the move would “enable an elected government to implement its policy according to the law. Unlike the opposition, which behaves irresponsibly and spreads incitement, we in the coalition act responsibly,” he said.

On Sunday, Lapid urged the Histadrut labor federation to declare another general strike, following its decision to partially shut down the country on March 27.

Members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) meet in Jerusalem on June 28, 2023. MK Simcha Rothman, chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee said Sunday he would immediately prepare the bill for the two additional plenum votes necessary for it to become law.The goal of the coalition is to pass the bill before the end of the summer session on July 29. PHOTO BY GIL COHEN-MAGEN/GETTY IMAGES  

Activists also intend to demonstrate at Ben-Gurion Airport. Police say they will prevent a repeat of the protest on July 3, when thousands of demonstrators tried to block traffic to the airport and succeeded in snarling movement, including at the arrival halls.

Cabinet ministers on Sunday assailed Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for allowing, in their view, protesters to run rampant in a bid to paralyze the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying, “That’s a shocking sentence. Are you saying that besieging a barbershop from inches away is legitimate?” he asked, in a reference to his wife’s experience on March 1, when she had to be rescued by hundreds of police after being trapped in a hair salon for hours by anti-judicial reform protesters in Tel Aviv.

According to numbers provided by the Attorney General’s Office, only six indictments were handed down out of 572 arrests made at protests. Those six were for assaulting police officers.

In June, Yesh Atid Party leader Lapid and National Unity Party head Benny Gantz announced that they were suspending the reform negotiations.

The move came after Yesh Atid lawmaker Karine Elharrar was voted onto the Judicial Selection Committee, satisfying a key opposition demand during talks over the initiative.

On Sunday, both Lapid and Gantz called for the resumption of talks, a sentiment echoed by Economy Minister Nir Barkat of Likud, who nonetheless noted that “it was the opposition that left the room” in the first place.


Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)

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