High Court Won’t Intervene in Knesset Committee Assignments

Courtroom at the Supreme Court in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s High Court said on Monday that it will not intervene in a dispute between the opposition and the coalition in a dispute over Knesset committee assignments, The Jerusalem Post reported.

MKs from the Likud and Shas parties had complained to the court that the coalition had violated a longstanding practice of apportioning seats on committees in a fair and balanced manner. They charged that the current committee seatings constituted “a severe harm to the substantive values underlying the foundations of the Israeli system of government.”

The court rejected their petition, in part on the grounds that the opposition MKs had not made enough of an effort to engage the coalition on the issue.

The positions of the MKs’ parties, as well as the opinion of the Knesset legal adviser, who were against judicial intervention in the matter, also undermined the case of the petitioners.

The legal adviser opined that court intervention would be an encroachment on the legislative sphere, since the setting up of committees is “at the heart of the political role” of the Knesset.

The justices were unmoved by the argument of the petitioners’ lawyer, Ilan Bombach, that each individual MK is entitled to serve on Knesset committees, apart from party affiliation.

Although the High Court also admonished the coalition for its high-handed treatment of the opposition grievance, it said that it was not sufficient to warrant its intervention.

Rather, the Court said that it would take more extreme violations of Knesset procedure, such as preventing opposition MKs from proposing laws or no-confidence motions, before they would step in to put matters right.