A-G Warns Netanyahu to Stay Out of Push for Judicial Changes

Justice Minister Yariv Levin. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must stay out of his government’s push to overhaul the judicial system, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said on Thursday.

Netanyahu faces a potential conflict of interest, Baharav-Miara said in an official, 112-page opinion submitted to Justice Minister Yariv Levin, citing the prime minister’s corruption trial in which he has denied wrongdoing.

She argued, furthermore, that Levin’s proposed reforms will “lead to grave damage to the system of checks and balances” between the separate branches of the government, an argument heard daily from opposition parties, legal figures and the media.

Baharav-Miara notes that many of her concerns “go to the root of the principle of separation of powers, judicial independence… and the protection of individual rights.”

Netanyahu later informed the High Court that he finds her opinion “unacceptable,” and requested two weeks in which to prepare a full response.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners responded with a scathing statement, alleging that her  letter “is an attempt to silence” the government “in complete opposition to the clear mandate we received from the citizens of Israel in the election.”

They denied any connection between Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judiciary reform proposals and Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.

“Those who are acting in conflict of interest are actually those in the Attorney General’s Office,” who are “publicly fighting the judicial reform, which will affect their position” while also “using their position to thwart it,” they wrote.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir charged that “the attorney general is trying to threaten the Prime Minister and the government of Israel.

“Threats do not change policy and the government will not fold,” he continued. “If you want dialogue, that is legitimate, but you must understand that such threats only encourage the government to pass the reform as quickly as possible,” he said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The prime minister, in his sixth term, argues the judiciary has overstepped its bounds in recent years. Members of his coalition have also described the High Court as elitist and out of touch with the public.

Critics of the proposed changes say they will politicize the judiciary and compromise its independence, undermining democracy, fostering corruption and harming the economy.

In recent interviews to U.S. media, Netanyahu has defended the plan, apparently seeking to assuage fears investors will bolt Israel if it is eventually written into law.

“I think it’ll help the Israeli economy in a major way,” Netanyahu told Fox Business on Wednesday, adding that the judicial shake-up would help cut back unnecessary litigation.

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