The Jewish Home party pressured a senior coalition partner critical of a proposed bill limiting the Supreme Court’s powers to support the bill, a day after a key government committee approved the bill.
On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved the so-called “Override Clause”, guaranteeing coalition backing for the proposal.
The bill, proposed by the Jewish Home party, would modify Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, restricting the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws passed by the Knesset.
If approved, the bill would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings against Knesset laws with a 61-vote majority.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has expressed his opposition to the proposal, saying that a supermajority of 70 votes should be required for votes to override the high court, arguing that the Jewish Home proposal placed too much power in the hands of the government.
While the Jewish Home-backed bill would place a lower threshold for overriding Supreme Court rulings, the 61-vote majority is still higher than the threshold for passing laws, which requires a simple majority only of MKs taking part in a given vote.
Finance Minister and Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon has also objected to the proposal, warning that it would unduly weaken the judiciary.
But on Monday, the Jewish Home party released a statement urging Kahlon to drop his opposition, challenging claims that the version of the bill approved Monday was “extreme”.
“Yesterday, the ‘extreme’ ministers Yoav Galant, Gila Gamliel, Sofa Landver, [Ayelet] Shaked, [Ofir] Akunis, [Yariv] Levin, and [Zeev] Elkin unanimously backed the Override Clause,” the party said in a statement Monday morning.
“This bill, combined with the Infiltrator Law and the opening of the Holot detention facility, will solve the problem of illegal infiltrators. We don’t see any other solution.”
In March, the Supreme Court froze government plans to deport thousands of the roughly 35,000 illegal immigrants living in Israel. The illegal migrants, dubbed “infiltrators”, originated mostly from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia, and snuck into Israel across the border with Sinai prior to the construction of Israel’s border fence in 2013.
The Supreme Court also struck down in 2017 a similar deportation plan approved by the Knesset.
Supporters of the Override Clause have billed it as a solution to the infiltrator crisis, enabling the government to enact the deportation program, even though Rwanda and Uganda, the countries which had reportedly planned to absorb the deportees, have since denied agreeing to the deal with Israel.
“We expect Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister Kahlon to work towards the passage of this law, or to offer an alternative solution [to the infiltrator crisis] as they promised,” the Jewish Home statement read.