Netanyahu and Gantz
Netanyahu and Gantzצילום: דוברות הכנסת, עדינה ולמן

A proposed investigation of possible conflicts of interest in the Israeli judiciary has divided the unity government, pitting the Likud against the Blue and White party.

Coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) announced Wednesday that the Likud party will support the proposal put forth by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) to form a parliamentary committee to investigate judges over claims of conflicts of interest.

Smotrich had called on coalition members, including the Likud and haredi lawmakers, to make their intentions clear regarding his proposal.

“The Supreme Court judges routinely trample the rights of the haredi public,” said Smotrich on Wednesday, “by blocking public events which have separations between men and women and by cancelling draft laws passed by the Knesset, among other things.”

“Today, haredi lawmakers can balance things out by voting in favor of the formation of an investigatory committee to probe possible conflicts of interest of Supreme Court judges. I expect them to vote in favor.”

But Blue and White, the Likud’s coalition partner, excoriated the Likud’s support for the proposal, calling it an attack on Israeli democracy, and vowed to form another committee to probe a corruption scandal which has been indirectly linked to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Voting in favor of the establishment of a committee to probe judges is a declaration of war against Israeli democracy,” Blue and White said Wednesday afternoon, adding that it would retaliate by pushing for a committee to probe the Submarine Case, despite a police investigation into the matter.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) endorsed Smotrich’s proposal, saying that the time has come for the Knesset to assert itself.

“The days of the Knesset being too afraid to investigate the judiciary have come to an end.”

While the haredi factions Shas and United Torah Judaism are expected to follow the Likud and back the bill, it will likely still be short of a majority in the Knesset, unless it can win support from Yisrael Beytenu.