Knesset Passes Override Clause in Preliminary Reading

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israel high court
MK Miki Zohar at the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

​On Monday, the Knesset Plenum passed in a preliminary reading the proposed Basic Law: Override (Legislative Amendments) sponsored by MK Miki Zohar (Likud). The bill passed this reading by a majority of 41 to 30, and will be turned over to the Arrangements Committee, since no Constitution Committee has been formed yet.

The bill proposes to stipulate in Basic Law: The Judiciary that only the Supreme Court shall have the unique authority to discuss the validity of laws and their conformity to various basic laws. A ruling on this matter must be handed down by a full panel of the Supreme Court, and only if all the judges on the panel have agreed clearly that the law in question contradicts a provision protected within a basic law.

The bill further proposes to stipulate in Basic Law: The Knesset that the Knesset will be able to enact a law that the court will not be able to annul or amend if the law was passed by a majority of MKs, and if the law states that it will be in force in spite of the content of the basic laws. Such a provision will be in force until two years have elapsed since the start of the term of the Knesset following its legislation, and the next Knesset will be able to extend it indefinitely.

The explanatory notes state: “If the bill passes, the Supreme Court will be prevented from entering into the political debate in the State of Israel, thereby strengthening the democratic principle that all branches of government in the state are subject to the will of the sovereign—the people—and the principle of the rule of law in all branches of government.

“Approval of the proposed basic law will also strengthen the public status of the Supreme Court, which in recent years has suffered from a sharp decline in the level of public trust it enjoys, due to its intervention in core issues that are under public controversy in Israel and its rulings that are opposed to the laws of the Knesset and the will of the people.”

Zohar: “When Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar rely on MK Abu Shahadeh they are endangering Israel’s security. My friends on the left wing, I understand that you can already see your government being formed, after 21 years in the opposition. That makes me very concerned, and it should be a cause for concern for anyone who believes in a right-wing ideology. It is unthinkable that Bennett and Sa’ar will lend a hand to this. The bills being voted upon today proves to us all that a right-wing government is possible and essential.”

Naftali Bennett (Yamina): “It is no secret that we left no stone unturned in the attempt to form a right-wing government, and in the negotiations there were only two demands that the Prime Minister refused — regulation of young communities and the Override Clause.”