Minister Expresses Concern Over the Court’s Direction Ahead of Crucial Hearing in the Knesset
Two Israeli cabinet ministers, Shlomo Karhi and Idit Silman, have publicly expressed their disapproval of the High Court’s scheduled hearing on petitions against a contentious government legislation. They argue that the hearing could potentially overturn the results of the recent election, posing a threat to democracy. The disputed legislation, which was passed in March, maintains that only the government and the Knesset can declare the Prime Minister incapacitated and only on medical grounds. Moreover, such a declaration requires considerable support from the cabinet and parliament.
The Legislation: A Protective Measure for the Prime Minister?
There are claims that this legislation was designed as a protective measure for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently holds office despite facing a criminal indictment and allegations of violating a conflict of interest agreement. The High Court’s hearing could potentially pave the way for petitions demanding Netanyahu’s recusal from office. This legislation has stirred controversy as it is seen by some as a means to protect the Prime Minister from possible removal from office due to legal issues.
The Legislative Amendment and its Impact on the Prime Minister’s Position
The amendment, which is a change to one of Israel’s Basic Laws, posits that only the prime minister himself or the cabinet with a two-thirds majority can declare the leader unfit for office due to physical or mental incapacity. This amendment was passed before legislation started on a judicial overhaul package promoted by Netanyahu’s right-wing government. Critics argue that it erodes Israel’s democracy and weakens its judiciary. The petitioners in the High Court hearing contend that the amendment was passed solely for Netanyahu’s benefit, as he faces an ongoing corruption trial, making it a misuse of constituent authority.
The High Court’s Role and Potential Outcomes
The Supreme Court could potentially strike down amendments to a Basic Law, although it has never done so in the past. A preliminary hearing with three judges has already been held on this case. In the upcoming hearing, arguments will be heard again, this time in front of 11 of the 15 Supreme Court justices. The justices could strike down the amendment, declaring that the parliament carried out a misuse of constituent power. This would imply that the legislation was passed not for general purposes but for political purposes, to benefit a specific individual, i.e., Netanyahu.
The Battle Over Judicial Overhaul
This case is part of a broader controversy over the proposed judicial overhaul by Netanyahu’s government. Some argue that this overhaul seeks to limit the power of the judiciary and concentrate power in the hands of the government. Critics, including a wide spectrum of Israeli society, argue that the plan could destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies. This battle over the judicial overhaul has led to sustained protests, marking a significant moment in the country’s democratic history.
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