Justice officials warn court reform will 'end Israeli democracy'

Senior justice officials blast Likud plans to curtail judiciary, warning Israel 'is on the verge of losing its democracy'.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Binyamin Netanyahu (r) and Yariv Levin (l)
Binyamin Netanyahu (r) and Yariv Levin (l)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Senior justice officials on Monday excoriated plans to curtail the Israeli judiciary, warning that the judicial reform program proposed by the Likud would threaten Israel’s democratic system of government.

“We’re on the verge of losing democracy,” the officials said, according to a report by Channel 13. “There is a clear link between the indictment of Netanyahu and his plan to crush the supreme court.”

The senior officials went on to warn that if the Israeli judiciary is weakened, Israel would suffer a precipitous decline in global prestige.

“We’ll become pariahs in the eyes of the world. Netanyahu is willing to destroy everything in order to avoid going to trial. Someone in the political system has to wake up, and fast.”

The comments come following reports Monday morning carried by Haaretz and Israel Hayom regarding plans by the Likud regarding the continuation of the judicial reform efforts initiated by former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

The plans for the next coalition, drawn up by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) – who is widely expected to be tapped as the next Justice Minister – at Netanyahu’s behest, include passage of a bill which would drastically limit the ability of the Supreme Court to strike down not only laws passed by the Knesset, but even administrative actions by the Israeli government, the cabinet, and the Knesset.

According to the reports, the bill would enable the Knesset to override a court decision stripping Netanyahu of his immunity, thus preventing him from being prosecuted while he remains in office.

In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit announced that he had approved recommendations to indict Netanyahu on charges of breach of trust and fraud in connection with the Case 1000 and Case 2000 investigations, and would likely indict Netanyahu in the Case 4000 investigation on bribery charges – the most serious of the allegations against the Prime Minister – after a hearing with Netanyahu this summer.

The Likud responded to the reports Monday, as well as the comments by senior justice officials, saying that some of the claims regarding plans for the next government had been “sensationalized”, without denying any specific details of the reports.

“In the course of coalition talks many proposals have been made by the Likud’s coalition partners, particularly with regard to the Sabbath, and the balance of power between the legislature and the judiciary,” the Likud party said in a statement.

“The sensationalized coverage in the media has included some proposals which haven’t been discussed, as well as biased and misleading commentary aimed at blocking any attempt to restore balance between the democratically-elected legislature and the judiciary. The Likud will continue to defend the idea of having strong, independent courts, but that does not mean that the courts must be supreme.”