The Knesset is in a storm following an unusual bill proposed by Chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) that would prohibit members of Knesset from petitioning the High Court of Justice, which came to light on Thursday.
In Kisch’s opinion, the “march of MKs to the High Court of Justice” needs to stop, but the opposition—and some members of the coalition—were outraged and claim that this bill constitutes a damage to the Supreme Court and to MKs’ rights.
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The bill will be brought forward for an accelerated debate in the House Committee. “The bill’s goal is to strengthen the separation of powers and require members of Knesset to exhaust the proceedings in the legislature, ” said Kisch, “This phenomenon of MKs who are actually making a legitimate democratic fight in the Knesset and in the plenum but then lose and take it to the High Court has become a phenomenon that simply undermines the status of the Knesset.
“I don’t want to generalize, but this is usually done for the media and PR benefit of the MK. If it’s something that is personally related to the MK, then there’s no problem, but when it’s matters of state that were handled in the Knesset, and the Knesset decided on them, such matters must not be brought in a petition to the High Court of Justice. Others can petition: citizens or organizations.”
The chairman rejected the criticism that the bill has received in the Knesset, saying, “Hypocrisy is rejoicing. Members of the opposition are speaking about the death of democracy whilst they are crudely trampling the principles of the separation of powers and majority rules.”
The main obstacle now facing the bill is opposition from within the coalition from Kulanu. Its faction chairman, MK Roy Folkman, said that his faction would not allow the bill’s passage into law.
The opposition joined in their outrage. Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the person responsible for the bill. “The right to stand before the High Court of Justice has been available to MKs for decades. The attempt to harm it is the gun that Netanyahu has been pressing to the temple of the law enforcement and judicial systems and brings Israel closer to the extreme end of the delicate democratic balance in Israeli society.”
MK Michael Rozin (Meretz) said, “Less than a month since MK Kisch was appointed chair of the House Committee, and he’s already working to amputate democracy’s arms and legs. If MK Kisch were familiar with the Supreme Court and not fed de-legitimization by his friends on the right, then he would know that not every problem is solved in the plenum, and sometimes we have to go to the High Court of Justice.” MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) dubbed the bill “the wild, unequal and unconstitutional new law from the Likud school.”