Report: Coalition may rush to take over judge selection, slow some other bills


The coalition is fast-tracking one of the most significant aspects of its judicial reform — the takeover of the Judicial Selection Committee — while delaying work on many of the other bills in the plan, in an effort to save energy. exploitation from mass. protests against the program, according to an unconfirmed report on Friday night.

Channel 12 said that under such a plan, the cabinet could pass legislation within days that would give it full power to appoint judges, including to the Supreme Court, as this is the most important part of the reform in the eyes of the Minister of Justice Yariv Levin. . He would also move to assert control over the appointment of the chief justice.

This would enable the government to appoint three new judges of its choice to the court in the coming year (due to the retirement of three judges, including Chief Justice Esther Hayut).

Meanwhile, abolishing the current seniority system for the appointment of the chief justice would enable the coalition government to appoint its own candidate. As the chief judge chooses the judicial panels for various cases that come before the court, this would give the coalition significant leverage over the court’s agenda and, possibly, its rulings.

Channel 12’s political reporter, Daphna Liel, stressed that the government does not intend to abandon other tranches of its plan, but to slow them down in an attempt to quell public protests, which were fueled in part by the elimination of the radical bills that resulted. up the current legislative agenda, and Levin has said he aims to get it into law before the Knesset breaks for Passover two weeks from now.

The unsourced report could not be independently verified.

It is doubtful that such a plan would do much to quell mass demonstrations against the government, as its attempt to control the committee elected by judges is widely seen by critics as one of its most dangerous aspects. of the plan, politicizing the court and not depriving it of its independence.

Israelis raise national flags as they protest against the government’s controversial judicial reform bill in Tel Aviv on March 9, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The government’s current legislative plan, as it stands, will also significantly limit the High Court’s ability to overturn legislation, allow the Knesset to overrule any such court rulings by a bare majority, and protect basic human and civil rights. to remain in Israel without guaranteed protection from the Council. majority control. Opponents argue that it will seriously weaken Israel’s democratic character and remove a key element of its checks and balances. Supporters call the reform much-needed for reunification in an activist court.

The reform plans have sparked intense public criticism and fierce opposition across Israel, prompting mass protests and warnings from economists, legal professionals, academics and security officials. Protesters have been pouring into the streets since January in countless days of “disruption” and “resistance”.

The major protests are to take place across the country on Saturday evening. In recent weeks the number of Saturday rallies has continued to grow, and last week’s events are believed to have drawn more than 300,000 across the country (organisers claimed half a million demonstrators).

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners rejected President Isaac Herzog’s long-standing proposal for reform that was generally agreed upon, declaring that it upholds the current situation of what they say is too much power. by the court overruling the government’s decisions.

President Isaac Herzog addresses the nation about the government’s judicial reform legislation, March 9, 2023. (GPO)

Opposition leaders showed cautious approval of the framework as a basis for talks, quickly excoriating the government for what Herzog presented as the last best chance to avoid a catastrophic tear in the life of Israeli society.

In a joint statement on Wednesday night, leaders of factions in Netanyahu’s 64-seat coalition condemned Herzog’s offer as “one-sided, biased and unacceptable”.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid warned that Israel was being “motivated” by the government’s legislative push, accusing it of not approaching the President’s framework “with respect for its position, its seriousness and its writing and the values ​​on which it is established. .”

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