One of the most contentious components of the government's judicial reform package is the Override Clause which would enable the government to vote down Supreme Court rulings that invalidate Knesset legislation. Long promoted by elements within the coalition as essential in order to curb the Court's power, the Clause has passed its first reading in the Knesset but its future is now uncertain.
The Kohelet Forum is a conservative-leaning think-tank whose influence over the government's plans for the judiciary is considered to be substantial. The head of its legal department, Dr. Aviad Bakshi, is one of the three people on the working team appointed by the prime minister to represent the government in negotiations with Yesh Atid and National Unity.
According to Moshe Koppel, the head of the Kohelet Policy Forum, the Override Clause is "totally idiotic" and "no one ever thought it would pass." Koppel's words were revealed by a Channel 13 reporter covering a recent closed meeting held in Manhattan.
"I want to make one thing absolutely clear," Koppel said in the recording obtained by Channel 13. "What we told [Justice Minister] Yariv Levin and [Constitution Committee chairman] Simcha Rothman is that the Override Clause is totally stupid and that we never wanted it. It was a political issue."
Koppel went on to blame the haredi political parties for pressuring the government to include it in the reform package. "The haredim persuaded us, due to the Draft Law. But now, a lot of haredim understand, among themselves, and they're also saying this in Shas, that you just need to solve the Draft Law issue with a Basic Law and then they don't care about the Override Clause. But Gafni of United Torah Judaism is still insisting on passing an Override Clause.
"Why do the haredim want it?" Koppel asked rhetorically. "They want it because they have specific problems and they're worried that the Supreme Court will invalidate certain laws, such as the Draft Law. The Draft Law is just one thing, but it also involves gender segregation, which is a really hot topic."
Koppel added that, "The Override Clause isn't going to happen. No one ever thought that there would be an Override Clause, and I'm telling you - listen to me, read my lips - there isn't going to be an Override Clause."
Responding to Koppel's words, MK Gafni said that, "The Kohelet Forum can no longer be considered a right-wing organization - it's part of the Left." He also pointed out that, "Justice Minister Yariv Levin has been talking about the need for an Override Clause for years, since long before he became a minister."
Speaking to the haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman, Gafni stressed that, "The Kohelet Forum hasn't been right-wing for a long time already. They're left-wing. The Likud party is behind the demand to pass an Override Clause - they've been talking about it for years - and we support them in this position. Now this person comes along with all his chutzpa behind the nice exterior and claims that we're the ones demanding the Clause. He's quite comfortable with harming an entire sector along with its elected representatives, in saying such a thing."