Supreme Court outrages right-wing with decision to force Knesset speaker vote

The Supreme Court said the Knesset must hold a vote to elect a speaker as soon as possible.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

After deliberating on Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court directed on Monday that the Knesset vote on choosing a speaker as soon as possible, accepting the position of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The court wrote: “Given the legal adviser’s position to the Knesset that it should not be delayed but a short period of time to raise the proposal to elect a permanent chairman of the Knesset, and given the attorney general’s position to the government that it should be done as soon as possible.”

Following the ruling, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, a member of the Likud party, will be required to call a plenary session of the Knesset in order select a new speaker of parliament by Wednesday.

Israel’s right-wing expressed outrage at the decision. Likud Minister Yariv Levin said, “The court has officially taken over the Knesset, and from today has turned the Speaker of the Knesset into a rubber stamp… I call on the Speaker of the Knesset to declare that only he decides when the plenum will gather and what will be its schedule.”

“If [Supreme Court] President Esther Hayut wants to put herself above the Knesset, she’s invited to come to the building with the court guard and open the plenum herself. That way it’ll at least be clear that were talking about a revolution of a small group of judges that select themselves in back rooms,” Levin said.

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Edelstein froze Knesset proceedings after only three minutes last Wednesday due to fighting between the parties over the makeup of Knesset committees.

The opposition Blue and White party said that Edelstein was trying to block three pieces of legislation from moving forward, which the party introduced moments after the 23rd Knesset was sworn in on Monday.

All three target Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and would, if passed, prevent him from serving as the country’s leader. Critics have said it amounts to changing the rules of the game mid-stream.

Blue and White seeks to replace Edelstein in order to ensure passage of the legislation. The Knesset Speaker controls parliament’s schedule and could hinder or hasten passage of proposed laws.

Edelstein said last week that he wouldn’t cooperate in Blue and White’s efforts to oust him.

Minister Bezalel Smotrich also attacked the High Court’s decision. “The impertinence and the contempt of the Supreme Court of Israel for the Knesset is something that works like corona – if you don’t treat it in time, it takes over at an exponential rate.”

The right-wing has complained about the court’s judicial activism for years, arguing that it is taking over legislative functions. The Right has also argued that the court takes left-wing positions on issues.

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The Knesset will meet on Monday but without the right-wing bloc, which will boycott the proceedings.

Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar told members of the bloc that they would filibuster the powerful Arrangements Committee to prevent it from forming.

The Arrangements Committee decides the make-up of other permanent committees and makes recommendations as to who should lead them. Blue and White is determined to have a majority in the committee to push through its agenda at the top of which is its anti-Netanyahu legislation.