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Israel set to begin voting on judicial reform legislation

Knesset Law Committee could begin voting on parts of Israel’s proposed legal reforms as early as tomorrow

MK Simcha Rotman, head of the Constitution Committee leads a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset Law Committee could begin voting on parts of Israel’s proposed legal reforms as early as tomorrow, committee chairman Simcha Rothman told the group’s members Monday night. 

Rothman announced that the proposed reforms will be voted on in parts. The first two sections will be regarding reforms that deal with the composition of the judicial selection committee and those that bar the High Court of Justice from exercising judicial review over Israel's Basic Laws. 

A deadline has not yet been set for a committee vote on splitting the clauses, but Rothman indicated it could happen as early as Wednesday or next Monday. 

On Monday, Ynet news announced that Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the sponsor of the proposed reforms, was considering the possibility of splitting the plan in order to enable parts of it to pass in the current session that ends in April.

The coalition believes that if the proposals are debated and voted on separately, it could lead to less opposition for the reforms as a whole. 

Yesterday, Natan Sharansky, a former government minister and former Knesset member, wrote on social media calling for members of the government and the Israeli parliament to accept President Isaac Herzog’s proposal for dialogue aimed at a compromise. 

Sharansky, who is also a Nobel laureate and former head of the Jewish Agency, wrote, “The entire political spectrum of Israeli society was fused into two parties – ‘Just not Bibi’ and ‘Just Bibi’.”

According to Sharansky, “the most problematic point is the clause of overcoming by 61 votes.” 

“The Knesset must have the last word on political decisions. And the court, on decisions related to human rights,” he suggested. 

It remains to be seen if anyone in the coalition or the opposition will incorporate Sharansky’s proposed compromise. However, one proposal being discussed by some opposition lawmakers, according to Ynet news, is whether to raise the number of required votes to overturn a Supreme Court decision from 61 to 65 votes. This would practically guarantee that any ruling coalition would have to reach compromises with opposition members in order to accomplish it, leading to increased unity. 

Last week, in a call with Israeli news site Arutz 7, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin said he is willing to talk with legal reform opponents. 

“Not only am I willing to talk – I want to talk,” he said. “Real talks between opponents of the reform and its supporters will be when the Constitution Committee’s deliberations progress to a second and third reading.” 

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

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