Opposition to petition High Court against ‘reasonableness bill’

Yair Lapid slammed the “unilateral abrogation of the democratic character of the State of Israel.”


Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) will petition the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Tuesday after the Knesset voted into law a bill to restrict judges’ use of the “reasonableness” standard.

On Monday afternoon, all 64 members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition voted in favor of the key judicial reform legislation. Opposition lawmakers boycotted the third and final vote.

The amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

“As early as tomorrow morning, we will petition the High Court against the unilateral abrogation of the democratic character of the State of Israel and the anti-democratic and predatory nature in which discussions in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee were conducted,” Lapid said.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said it has already requested an injunction from the Supreme Court.

The organization claimed the law should be canceled as it “fundamentally changes the basic structure of Israeli parliamentary democracy and the nature of the regime, while de facto abolishing the judiciary and seriously damaging the delicate fabric of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances in the State of Israel.

“The government of destruction has raised its malicious hand against the State of Israel. Now it’s the Supreme Court’s turn to step up and prevent this legislation [from taking effect],” the Movement for Quality Government’s chairman Eliad Shraga said.

The Histadrut labor federation decried “political whims on both sides [of the issue],” which it said prevented a compromise.

“From this moment on any unilateral advancement of the reform will have grave consequences … up to and including a full strike of workers’ unions throughout the country,” Histadrut leader Arnon Bar-David said.

Meanwhile, members of the government praised the law’s passage.

“In an extraordinary move, we took the first step in the historical process of correcting the judicial system and restoring the powers taken from the government and the Knesset over many years,” Justice Minister Yariv Levin said in the plenum after the bill passed.

Turning to the leaders of the opposition, Levin and others suggested that an agreement on the rest of the judicial reform package could still be struck over the summer break, which starts on Sunday.

“After many years of hard and strenuous work, we are starting to repair the judicial system,” tweeted Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

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“Thanks to the prime minister, the members of the coalition, the justice minister, and my partner and friend in leading the reform Simcha Rothman [the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee]. Together we will continue to repair things responsibly,” Smotrich vowed.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called the passage of the law “good news” for all of Israel, which “will be a little more democratic from today.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to give a prime-time televised address on Monday night.

Last week, Netanyahu said that the reform initiative “isn’t the end of democracy, but rather will strengthen democracy. The rights of the courts and Israeli citizens will not be harmed in any way.

“The court will continue to monitor the legality of government decisions and appointments. [We] will be required to act in good faith and with proportionality, fairness and equality,” he said.