Knesset delays debate on judicial reform bill due to terror attack

The delay was made at the request of several lawmakers. A new hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

By TPS

A debate over the latest Israeli judicial reform legislation due to be held on Wednesday was postponed due to Tuesday’s deadly Palestinian terror attack in Samaria.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee announced the postponement on Tuesday. The delay was made at the request of several lawmakers. A new hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

Four Israelis were killed and four others were injured when two Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a gas station near the community of Eli. One of the victims was laid to rest on Wednesday morning, while another funeral was due to begin at noon. Two others were buried on Tuesday night.

The bill seeks to prevent the Supreme Court from using the legal justification of “reasonableness” in certain cases. Those include ruling on government and ministerial committee decisions, and on the appointment of senior officials.

Under the bill the court can still apply the reasonableness criteria to other, lesser decisions of a clerical nature, and to appointments of officials at the level of local authorities.

Read  WATCH: Hamas terrorists fire at town in central Israel

According to the text of the draft bill published on Monday: “Those who have the authority to adjudicate according to law, including the Supreme Court, will not judge or issue an order against the government, the prime minister, a minister or another elected official as determined by law regarding the reasonableness of their decision.”

Critics of the “reasonableness” standard say it has substituted the court’s judgment for that of the Knesset. The court can simply overturn any parliamentary decision on the vague basis that it’s “unreasonable” in its view, they say.

The criteria also opens up all Knesset actions and decisions to judicial review, as the court can weigh in on any subject on the grounds of whether or not it’s “reasonable,” critics argue.

Religious Zionism Party Knesset member Simcha Rothman, chairman of the committee, said that the proposal was in line with those of Supreme Court Judge Noam Solberg, who supports eliminating the “reasonableness” standard, and with the election platform of many opposition politicians.

“I call on the members of the committee to conduct a respectful and serious discussion, in order to advance the amendment that we all believe is necessary,” he said.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid attacked the plan.

“This is a full-on coup d’état: crushing democracy, crushing the Supreme Court, and this time they are also going after the legal adviser to the government. All this will lead to fatal damage to the economy, endangering Israeli security, destroying our foreign relations. We will be there in the plenum, in the Knesset, on the streets of the country,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the legislative process for judicial reform in March to give time for negotiations with the opposition to work.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosted talks involving various Knesset factions with the aim of forging a compromise. However, talks broke down last week.

“What has been proven is that [National Unity Party leader Benny] Gantz and Lapid were playing a game. It was a misrepresentation of so-called negotiations,” said Netanyahu following the breakdown.

“We gave [them] three months; their representatives did not agree to the most minimal understanding. They tried to kill every amendment. We will take the steps in a measured manner according to the mandate we received [from the voters],” he added.

The governing coalition’s judicial reforms are deeply controversial. Other bills in the legislative pipeline would alter the way judges are appointed and removed, give the Knesset the ability to override certain High Court rulings, and change the way legal advisors are appointed to government ministries.

Read  German police stop Muslim terror attack on synagogue

Supporters of the legal overhaul say they want to end years of judicial overreach while opponents describe the proposals as anti-democratic.

>