Knesset Committee Chairman Rejects Legal Adviser’s Advice on Judicial Reform

By Yisrael Price

Religious Zionist MK Simcha Rothman at a party meeting in the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — A Knesset legal advisor was openly rebuked by a committee chairman on Monday for recommending that the government’s far-reaching judicial reforms be put on a slow legislative track.

The chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, MK Simcha Rothman of the far-right Religious Zionism party accused the committee’s own legal adviser Gur Bligh of bias and urged that he revise his opinion, according to The Times of Israel.

Rothman cut off Bligh as he tried to explain his position that the judicial changes, if passed, should only be put into effect in the next Knesset, after another general election, which would give the public time to evaluate the issues involved. He also argued that it should not be “implemented immediately, in order to strengthen the power of a given government and coalition.”

That could mean a delay of several years, while the government is intent on passing the changes this year.

“The preparatory document from the Knesset legal adviser is biased,” Rothman said, though acknowledging that some parts were “correct.”

“Part of it is a built-in bias of jurists and part of it is a bias that results maybe from a lack of agreement or other reasons,” he said. “I don’t say these things lightly and it pains me to say them because a biased opinion by its very nature makes it difficult to be able to adopt even the correct parts.”

After Rothman advised Bligh to “take back” his remarks, opposition MKs sprang to his defense amid the unusually rough treatment.

Gideon Sa’ar, who was justice minister in the previous government, said it was “simply unbelievable. I advise you, Mister Chairman, to take back your last suggestion.”

Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharrar told Rothman she had never seen a legal adviser treated in such a manner.

To that, Rothman responded, “I have never seen a legal opinion like this.”

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