At the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jewish Home will hold off on presenting a draft of a High Court Override Law before the Ministerial Law Committee, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in statement Tuesday – but after that, he had better allow Jewish Home to pursue the law, if he wants to remain Prime Minister.
While the party was glad to accommodate Netanyahu this time, Jewish Home “is determined to pass the Override Law, the most important constitutional innovation in 25 years. This is the basis for removing the illegal migrants from Israel, fighting terror effectively, and for dealing with many other issues. We cannot allow this opportunity to slip by.” If the bill is not brought before ministers at their next meeting on May 6th, Bennett said, “Jewish Home will no longer vote with the coalition on bills in the Knesset” – effectively removing itself from the coalition, and turning Netanyahu’s government into one without a majority of MKs.
Bennett’s version of the Override Law would allow the Knesset to override High Court vetoes of laws passed by the Knesset if 61 MKs vote in favor of the override. According to Bennett, the law is a compromise that should satisfy both those opposed to a Knesset law that would prevent the court from overruling the Knesset altogether, and those who do not want to see any change in the current system, under which the Knesset must devise new legislation if the court rejects a specific measure.
While not preventing the court from ruling on the legality of Knesset measures, it gives the plenum an opportunity to express its will in the face of court opposition – but only if an absolute majority of MKs are in favor of that override. As the vast majority of Knesset laws are passed with less than a majority of the 120 member Knesset, it’s likely that the law would be relevant only when the issue in question is a very popular one among Israelis, Bennett said.
“Israel has a historic opportunity to advance an override bill and bring about true reform in the justice system,” Bennett said Sunday. “This will help in the efforts to remove illegal migrant workers from Israel, and also in many other areas where the court’s authority needs to be controlled. I informed the Prime Minister about this idea weeks ago, but unfortunately the law did not come up for consideration – and meanwhile no other laws on this matter have either. After years of dragging our feet the time has come to act. I expect all members of the government to support this balanced measure. We must move from words to actions.”
If the bill does get to the Committee, it is almost a certainty that it will be approved – and the government would then be obligated to support it, as part of the Likud’s coalition agreement with Jewish Home. A Yisrael Hayom report Tuesday said that 17 out of the 21 government ministers support the bill. With that, the report said, it is not certain that the bill will pass in the Knesset, as Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon has voiced opposition to laws that would override High Court rulings.