Justice Minister planning to ‘force’ Netanyahu to back full judicial reform plan

As Knesset moves forward with minor bill from judicial reform package, Justice Minister reportedly working with Smotrich, Ben-Gvir to force Netanyahu to pass full judicial overhaul.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), one of the two architects of the Israeli government’s judicial reform plan, is reportedly working with right-wing allies in the coalition to force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pass the entire overhaul package.

This week, the Knesset put the ‘Deri Law’ back on the agenda – marking the first time legislation from the judicial overhaul has been considered in the Knesset since Netanyahu froze the reform in late March following massive nationwide protests.

After negotiations with Opposition lawmakers for a compromise hit an impasse amid a dispute over the selection of the Knesset’s representatives for the powerful judicial appointments committee, Netanyahu vowed last week to move forward with two bills: the ‘Deri Law,’ and the ‘Legal Advisors Law.’

The two bills are considered to be minor parts of the judicial reform plan, with Opposition leaders signaling during talks that they would accept the two proposals as part of a toned-down overhaul.

The Deri Law would, if passed, bar Israeli courts from overruling government decisions on the basis of the “reasonableness standard,” under which then-Health Minister and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was forced to resign from his position earlier this year by the Supreme Court.

The second bill would make ministerial legal advisors employees of their respective government ministries, allowing ministers to hire and fire them without consulting with the Justice Ministry. In addition, under the bill, ministerial legal advisors’ opinions would no longer be legally binding.

Hebrew media outlets have reported over the past week that Justice Minister Levin has expressed frustration with the limited number of bills Netanyahu is willing to place on the Knesset agenda.

According to senior Likud officials quoted by Ma’ariv, Levin is working with the Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionist Party factions to organize a “putsch” against Netanyahu, threatening to topple his right-wing government if it does not move forward with the full judicial reform.

“Yariv is leading the revolt against Netanyahu,” the Likud officials were quoted as saying, adding that the Likud’s second highest-ranking lawmaker has also formed a group of supporters within the party to increase pressure on the prime minister.

“After he established an internal faction within the party and dispatched ministers and MKs to publicly threaten the Prime Minister, now he has moved on to an external putsch, and is using Smotrich and Ben-Gvir to threaten Netanyahu that they will topple his government if the reform is not advanced during the Knesset’s summer session.”

The Likud officials cited in the report also said Levin is hoping to position himself as Netanyahu’s replacement as leader of the party.

“There is only one real winner from the Prime Minister’s fall, and that’s Levin. He wants to replace Netanyahu, while [Netanyahu] is still alive.”