Changes to judicial overhaul leave just 10 days to re-do constitutional framework

920" src="" class="attachment-post-thumbnail size-post-thumbnail wp-post-image" alt="Changes to judicial overhaul leave just 10 days to re-do constitutional framework" decoding="async" />

Chaos ensued Monday morning over the government’s plan to overhaul Israel’s justice system, as proposed by a coalition new model There are less than two weeks left before its self-imposed deadline for judicial appointments to pass its dramatic overhaul agenda.

In short, in what has been widely condemned as a radical package of reforms that critics warn constitutes a change in the nature of Israel’s governance, the coalition has introduced a new, hasty one. Planned to rebuild Israel’s fragile constitutional order in time for the Passover holiday.

But although the coalition claims the new proposal addresses the concerns of opponents of the judicial overhaul programme, government legal advisers and senior legal scholars clarified on Monday that the measure was designed to be similar to previous planned incarnations of the government’s constitutional overhaul. Will have the same effect.

Over the past two months, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee has deliberated at dozens of hearings on a bill that would revamp the judicial selection process and give the ruling coalition full control over all judicial appointments.

According to the committee’s legal advisors, the proposed Bill, and the accompanying legislation, was written in the most extreme way, to fundamentally undermine the power of judicial review of the High Court.

And the architects of this venture, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Constitution Committee Chairman MK Simcha Rothman, set the tightest deadlines for this constitutional change, insisting that the law be passed by the end of the Knesset winter session on April 2.

The judicial overhaul push has inspired massive, intense and widespread demonstrations; the refusal of some members of critical IDF reserve units to perform military reserve duty and training; public opposition to key sectors of the economy, especially the tech industry; criticism from senior economists and financial experts; the condemnation of several senior jurists in Israel and abroad; And critically, even made some of the more moderate MKs in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party uncomfortable.

Israelis protest against the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv on March 18, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

In the face of this opposition, the Knesset opposition parties’ refusal to negotiate on moving forward with the legislative process, and the coalition parties’ unanimous and immediate rejection last Wednesday of President Isaac Herzog’s alternative proposal, the coalition decided to unilaterally amend the proposals. , to try to tone down the intensity of the protest movement, the country’s largest ever known.

But what has happened since Sunday night is bordering on the ridiculous.

Rothman put a new idea on the table whereby the coalition would control the appointment of the first two judicial appointments that open in each Knesset term, while any subsequent appointments in that term would require the support of the opposition MK and a member of the judiciary. ,

In Rothman’s mind, this represents a compromise of sorts, allowing the right wing to somewhat reshape the high court in this current Knesset term while stepping back from complete control of the court.

The coalition then issued a statement at midnight on Monday, declaring that this new version of the Judicial Appointments Bill, in all its complexity and nuances, will be passed Coincidentally by the same Sunday, April 2, the deadline that had been set in Jan.

In practice, the deadline is even earlier – Thursday 30 March, as the Knesset rarely sits on Sundays.

Even the three-month deadline Levin and Rothman had set in January to implement an overhaul of Israel’s constitutional framework seemed to many to be extraordinarily difficult to deal with such a consequential and fateful set of proposals. Time was considered short.

Architect of Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman and Justice Minister Yariv Levin speak during a debate on the government’s judicial overhaul package at the Knesset plenum on February 22, 2023. (Jonathan Sindel/Flash90)

But now, the government is insisting that an entirely new resolution be passed in less than two weeks, despite a host of questions being raised about the new law as it is released in drip and drab I went. Sunday night and Monday morning.

Such is the rush to pass the law that Attorney Gur Bligh, legal adviser to the constitution committee, noted Monday morning that the Knesset’s chief legal adviser has not even seen the new version of the law, and has not yet determined whether he supports it. Can do or not.

accelerated, modified, modified

The exact sequence of events over the past few days is also noteworthy.

Last Wednesday, Herzog announced his alternative framework, which some in the coalition thought could help build a bridge for the opposition to begin talks. Ultimately, however, Herzog’s proposal was unpalatable to the coalition, and by Thursday morning it was clear that nothing would come of it.

Over the weekend, the coalition including Netanyahu announced it would self-regulate the law in the absence of opposition engagement, and on Sunday morning Rothman presented a revised proposal to the constitution committee.

But the bill, which was revised and sent to MK and journalists, was not tabled on Sunday afternoon. It was a marginally modified version of the previous version of the law.

Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson speaks during a hearing of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, March 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90)

The new model, with its variable requirements for judicial appointments to the high court, was raised in committee only on Sunday afternoon, with a rough draft circulated to the MK on Monday morning.

After debating the new version of the bill in only one committee hearing on Monday, Rothman published and circulated the final version of the draft law late Monday, and set a deadline for submitting objections to the legislation just hours later. Tuesday morning at 10:00.

Objecting to this highly irregular and extremely short timeline, opposition leaders Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz, Avigdor Lieberman, Mirav Michaeli and Mansour Abbas sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana asking Rothman to hold another hearing on the legislation with testimony. asked to give instructions. Relevant experts before voting on the bill.

Even some Likud MKs appeared frustrated by the erratic handling of the far-reaching judicial shakeup.

“You don’t do reform like that,” tweeted MK Danny Danon, while leaks from a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday afternoon indicated deep resentment from many party MKs against the management and content of the legislative process. New ideas on both sides of the debate.

In its Sunday night announcement, the coalition said it would continue with wide-ranging aspects of its judicial overhaul, including radically restricting judicial review on legislation after the Passover holiday.

But as noted by the constitutional committee’s legal advisors, the arrangement of one part of this overhaul package is highly relevant to other components. Government control over judicial appointments has implications for the desired scope of judicial review.

However, as things stand, the Knesset will now vote on one element of the overhaul without knowing what the next components will look like.

Despite the chaos, Rothman announced at the end of Monday’s hearing that the committee would proceed with preparations to approve the bill for its second and third readings in the Knesset on Tuesday — a core element of the coalition’s drastic judicial overhaul. convert into

Lapid warned earlier Monday that he intended to petition the High Court against the bill should it become law, and expressed hope and confidence that judges would strike it down as an illegal political takeover of the judiciary. Will do

Levin has stated that any interference by the High Court “Red linethat the alliance would not “accept”.