'Likud promised to back Supreme Court Override Law'

Education Minister Naftali Bennett says Likud signed agreement explicitly promising to advance his bill restricting judicial activism.

David Rosenberg ,

Flash 90

Jewish Home chief and Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on the Likud to back his efforts to gain coalition support for legislation which would empower the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings.

Bennett’s proposal, dubbed the “Override Clause”, would alter Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, explicitly empowering the Knesset to overrule the Supreme Court and reenact laws nullified by the Court.

While Israel lacks a constitution, the Knesset has passed a series of Basic Laws which some Israeli jurists, including former Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, have treated as the country’s de facto constitution.

Since the 1990s, the Supreme Court has taken an activist position regarding the judiciary’s role, assuming the right of judicial supremacy and the ability to strike down laws passed by the Knesset and compel the government to adhere to its rulings.

In recent years, the court has drawn significant criticism from the Israeli right over its rulings against two different laws aimed at deporting illegal Eritrean, Somalian, and Sudanese immigrants, as well as rulings against plans by the IDF to demolish terrorists’ homes and compromise agreements between the government and Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.

Education Minister Bennett, together with fellow Jewish Home member Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, has pushed the government to back the “Override Clause”, which would enable the Knesset to reverse court rulings with a 61 majority vote in the Knesset.

While most laws require only a majority of MKs voting at any given time, the Override Clause would require a majority of the full 120-member Knesset.

But Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has expressed his opposition to the proposal, backing instead a watered-down version which would require 70 MKs to override the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has delayed discussion of Bennett’s proposal, in part due to opposition by Kulanu chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

On Sunday, Bennett revealed plans to bring up his bill in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which is headed by Minister Shaked, next Sunday. If a majority of committee members back the bill, all coalition members will be required to support the proposal when it is brought to a vote in the Knesset plenum.

Writing on Twitter Monday, Bennett called on the Likud to back his bid to advance the proposal, noting that the Likud had signed an agreement with the Jewish Home party regarding the legislation.

"Our demand to enact the clause with a majority of 61 Knesset members is no surprise. The Likud signed an explicit coalition agreement with us. Agreements must be fulfilled. I expect the full support of the Likud next Sunday. We will return the proper balance of powers to the branches [of government].”

In an interview Sunday, Bennett said the Supreme Court had assumed the powers of the executive branch, and was throwing out laws on a regular basis.

“The Supreme Court has tossed out nearly 20 laws in the last few years, and that is outrageous,” continued Bennett.

“We want the Supreme Court to be able to nullify laws only in extraordinary circumstances. The Knesset will be able to pass laws a second time [after their nullification by the court] in a protected manner, with a special majority of 61 Knesset members. Only this way can we remove the infiltrators from Israel.”