Yariv Levin
Yariv LevinHaim Toito

Sources close to Justice Minister Yariv Levin hailed as a "breakthrough" an outline for a compromise on Levin's judicial reforms which was submitted to President Isaac Herzog yesterday (Monday).

According to the report by Channel 12 News, the outline was developed by Prof. Yuval Elbashan, Dean for Social Development at Ono Academic College, former Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, former head of the Israeli National Security Council Giora Eiland, and Tel Aviv University Board of Directors chairman Giora Yaron.

Under the proposed outline, the committee which selects justices for the Supreme Court would have an equal number of representatives from the coalition and opposition, and the President of the Supreme Court would be able to veto a maximum of one candidate from each bloc during each government's term in office.

The outline also would establish that Basic Laws would need to be passed in four readings in the Knesset, as opposed to the three readings required for regular laws. A majority of just 61 MKs would still suffice to pass a Basic Law, but if the Basic Law does not receive the support of at least 70 MKs, the fourth reading would be held only in the following Knesset after elections are held.

In addition, the outline would place limits on judicial review of Knesset legislation by requiring 11 of the Supreme Court's 15 justices to strike down a law and limiting the time during which the court could do so.

The Override Clause would allow the Knesset to modify or re-pass legislation struck down by the court, but only with a majority of at least 65 MKs, as opposed to the 61 MKs of Minister Levin's proposal.

The authority of the attorney general and ministry legal advisers would be reduced by making the opinions of the attorney general and legal advisers non-binding on the government and allowing the government to be represented by other attorneys in cases before the Supreme Court instead of only the attorney general.

The 'reasonableness standard' would remain for legislation, but the court would not be able to use 'reasonableness' to strike down the appointment of government ministers, as was done in the case of former Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, whose appointment the Supreme Court struck down in January.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been attempting to persuade Justice Minister Levin to show more flexibility on President Isaac Herzog's efforts to facilitate a negotiated agreement on the judicial reforms. However, Levin has reportedly threatened to resign if the legislation is halted to comply with the opposition's precondition for entering into negotiations under the auspices of the president.

Levin has reportedly rejected another proposal submitted to President Herzog by a team led by Bar-Ilan University law professor Yedidia Stern. This plan would have removed the Overrule Clause from the reforms entirely.

Special provisions would be made to protect specific laws which the Supreme Court has struck down in the past, such as the Draft Law enshrining deferments from serving in the IDF for haredi yeshiva students.

Like the proposal of Prof. Elbashan, the Supreme Court would require a supermajority to strike down Knesset laws. However, it would leave the current authority of the attorney general and legal advisers unchanged.