Report: Likud, United Right to Shake Up Court System

MK Betzalel Smotrich of the United Right Party. (Flash90)

As part of their coalition arrangements, the Likud and the United Right List are preparing a policy platform on the Israeli justice system that will impose significant changes on the way the courts in Israel operate. The changes will affect the way cases are heard and adjudicated, as well as significantly limit the powers of the High Court over Knesset legislation.

A report in Yisrael Hayom Monday laid out the changes. Several meetings have been held between the parties in recent days to hammer out the platform, which will be part of the coalition agreements with all coalition partners. It is expected that there will be no opposition from any of the partners, including Kulanu, which in the previous Knesset opposed any legislation on the role of the High Court.

The platform enumerates sixteen changes to the court system that the government will commit to passing in Knesset legislation. Among them is a law that had already been proposed preventing the High Court from striking down Knesset legislation as unconstitutional if 61 MKs vote for it.

Another change will be the requirement of a public hearing before a judge to any court can be appointed; until now, hearings were held privately by a committee – appointed by judges – with proceedings not open to the public. Legislation will be passed to prevent the High Court from canceling a law because it is “unreasonable.”

In addition, legislation will be passed that will require any plaintiff before the High Court to show cause why the issue being adjudicated relates to them personally; the current practice by which anyone can initiate a court action will be ended.

And another change will limit the powers of the State Attorney, who will become more of an adviser to the government, and prevent him from acting against the government in court.

In response to the article, the Likud said that “during negotiations many ideas are raised, among them ideas for restoration of the balance of powers between the legislative and judicial branches. The sensationalized media reports on these issues include accounts of discussions and proposals that have never taken place, and biased analysis designed to end any discussion of these matters. The principle that guides the Likud, as it always has, is preserving a strong and independent court system, that operates within the parameters set out for it within the law.”

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