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In unprecedented move, Supreme Court announces all 15 justices will participate on panel to review Reasonableness Standard Law

The hearing is set to take place on Sept. 12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut at an official ceremony in Jerusalem, June 17, 2019. (Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Israel's Supreme Court confirmed on Monday afternoon that all 15 High Court justices will participate in the upcoming panel to review the Reasonableness Standard Law. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The announcement by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut marks the first time in Israel's history that all of the nation's Supreme Court justices will sit together on a panel for judicial review of a Knesset law.

The scheduled hearing to review petitions against the newly-passed law was first mentioned last Thursday. The court rejected an additional request to place an injunction on the law until the set hearing.

Israel has been divided over judicial reform for months, with an ongoing debate that has uncovered a widespread distrust of the nation's political leadership.

The issue came to a head last Monday when the Knesset voted in favor of implementing the Reasonableness Standard Law, which has been at the center of the judicial reform controversy for months.

The protest movement, now 30 weeks strong with no sign of weakening, has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition of threatening the democratic nature of the Jewish state by weakening the Supreme Court’s power. 

Many critics in Israel and abroad fear that the 'reasonableness' law is just the beginning of the coalition's push to dramatically reshape Israel’s legal landscape and undermine an independent judiciary. 

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel issued a warning that Israeli democracy is threatened by the Netanyahu government’s legal reforms. 

The prime minister has dismissed comments suggesting that the new law represents the end of Israeli democracy, by calling them 'silly,' and has insisted that his government is working to restore the balance of power, in effect, strengthening democracy in the Jewish state.

Netanyahu and his coalition argue that the courts have frequently overstepped their authority with activist rulings intended to target right-wing decisions and policies. 

"Today we carried out a required democratic move. The move was aimed at restoring a degree of balance between the authorities, which was here for 50 years. We passed the amendment on the clause of reasonableness so that the elected government could lead the policy in accordance with the decision of the majority of the country's citizens," Netanyahu told the Israeli public in an address soon after the dramatic news of the bill's passing.

“The essence of democracy is the balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority, and that's achieved by the balance between the three branches of government," Netanyahu explained. "That's been taken off the rails in Israel in the last 20 years,” Netanyahu said during an ABC News interview last week. The prime minister has been quick to reject international criticism of Israel's judicial reform crisis.

The announcement of next month's Supreme Court hearing came on the heels of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant telling members of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the country's "national resilience" has been damaged by the judicial reform controversy.

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

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