Mandelblit to Court: Hands Off Coalition

israel coaltition
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (Flash90)

While Likud and Blue and White were reportedly revising the coalition agreement to meet High Court criticisms on Tuesday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit submitted his opinion that judicial intervention would not be appropriate.

“Intervention by the honorable court in coalition agreements should be reserved for exceptional and rare cases,” Mandelblit wrote. Previously, he stated that there would be no legal obstacle to Prime Minister Netanyahu forming a government, even while under indictment.

Among the clauses singled out by the Court was a freeze on all legislation not coronavirus-related for six months, and an embargo on senior government appointments during the same period.

Meanwhile, Likud MKs continued to assail the Court for overstepping its bounds.

MK Yoav Kish told the Knesset on Tuesday that “we must pass legislation to override High Court rulings. Elections were just held where the Likud received almost 1,350,000 votes, the most ever for a party, for the establishment of a government led by Binyamin Netanyahu, and now eleven High Court judges sit and decide whether or not to accept this vote.

“To me it seems absurd that this question of the government’s legitimacy should even arise since it seriously damages our democratic system. That is why we must pass legislation that would allow the Knesset to override High Court rulings so that a balance of powers can be restored.”

Likud’s Matan Kahana said: “The High Court’s power derives from public trust in it. In 2000, 80 percent of the public expressed confidence in the court. The survey released this morning revealed that public confidence in the court has fallen by at least 50 percent,” he said, referring to a poll conducted for pro-Netanyahu newspaper Yisrael Hayom.

“The court has acquired powers that no one intended to give it. If the High Court was elected in a democratic way, that would be fine. But the High Court, as we know, chooses and appoints its judges. And so, for forty years, the people have been choosing the right and getting the left under the aegis of the Court,” Kahana charged.

According to the Maagar Mochot poll, 26 percent of the public believes the court’s decisions on key issues are “mostly political” and 11 percent say they are “always political.” Only 28 percent said its rulings are “mostly professional.”

The judges did poorly on public confidence. When respondents were asked whether they “generally trust the High Court of Justice,” 46 percent said they do, while 40 percent said they don’t.

By contrast, the IDF got the highest score for public trust, with 81 percent of respondents saying they believe what the IDF says and only 10 percent saying they do not.

The Knesset did worse than the High Court. Some 67 percent of respondents said they do not believe the legislature, while only 22 percent said they do.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has led the investigations against Netanyahu in three corruption cases over the past 3 years, had only 32 percent expressing confidence in him, versus 47 percent saying they don’t trust him.