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Israeli justice minister warns Supreme Court against blocking judicial-appointments bill

If passed in its current form, the bill would enable the coalition to control the selection of judges in the Israeli judiciary system

Justice Minister Yariv Levin speaks during a discussion and a vote in the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, Feb. 22, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is leading the government’s judicial overhaul plans, warned the Israeli Supreme Court on Monday against attempts to block the government’s judicial appointments bill, saying that to do so “would be completely unjustified.” 

“In my opinion, it would mark the crossing of every red line. We certainly won’t accept it,” Levin said.

If passed in its current form, the bill would enable the coalition to control the selection of judges in the Israeli judiciary system, including senior members of the Supreme Court. 

The Netanyahu government recently announced that it intends to bring the judicial-appointments bill for a final vote ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover in two weeks. This is the only bill the parliament aims to move ahead before the recess. 

Knesset Member Simcha Rothman, a leading judicial reforms advocate and head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, recently stressed that the purpose of the judicial overhaul was to have “as many people as possible in Israel […] feel that the Supreme Court is theirs.” 

Many traditional conservative Israelis of Middle Eastern descent complain that they do not feel represented by the Supreme Court, which is dominated by secular Ashkenazi (European-origin) judges affiliated with the political left.

However, critics of the judicial overhaul say it could severely harm Israeli democracy. 

Addressing the Knesset on Monday, Deputy Attorney General Avital Sompolinsky warned that the government’s proposed bill would “politicize the justice system and severely harm its independence and public trust in it.”

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also blasted the government bill in a social media post.

“Now he [Rothman] has informed us of a discussion and votes tomorrow in the constitution committee on changes to the committee for the selection of judges. They’re not executing a regime coup – they’re stealing it in the night,” said Lapid. 

However, Levin denied that the government intends to politicize the judicial system. 

“Our goal is to diversify the judicial system, to balance it. The goal is absolutely not to take over and not try to politicize the judicial system. Most of these scare tactics are really completely baseless,” Levin told Israel’s Channel 14. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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