Session of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee
Session of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice CommitteeIsrael National News

On Tuesday morning, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will be convening to discuss an amendment to the Basic Law: The Judiciary, a bill stipulating that the Supreme Court will not be permitted to exercise judicial review with regard to Basic Laws, which are the country's approximate equivalent of a constitution. The bill has already passed the Knesset in its first reading and is being prepared for its second and final readings.

The committee will also be discussing the government's bill to alter the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee with the aim of returning it to the Knesset for its second and final votes prior to the Passover recess.

On Monday, committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) clarified his proposal for a compromise on the matter of the Judicial Selection Committee, which has already been approved by the Likud party, albeit with a number of dissenters. Rothman himself explained the proposal as being "the right thing to do in response to criticism," and also noted that the ratio between coalition and opposition on the Judicial Selection Committee will remain unchanged from the present once the government legislation passes.

The amendment to the Basic Law will see appointments of Supreme Court judges being approved with a simple majority of 6 in the 11-person committee but only for the first two such appointments in a given government's term. The third appointment will require the assent of at least one opposition MK from the committee; subsequent appointments will also require the assent of at least one of the judges on the committee.

The government's judicial reform program will also allow the coalition to directly appoint a new Supreme Court President when the position opens (due to mandatory retirement at age 70) rather than the current situation in which the judge with seniority ascends to the position. Since Court President Esther Hayut is due to retire in the next half year, the government will likely be able to appoint a conservative-leaning judge to replace her.

The position of Supreme Court President in Israel is significant for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the Court President decides which judges hear which petitions, as most cases heard by the Court are not judged by the full bench of judges.