The Knesset advanced a plan that would allow MPs in Israel to overrule a Supreme Court ruling with a simple majority on Wednesday. Critics claim this proposal would seriously undermine the country’s democratic checks and balances.
The approval of the “Supreme Court override” bill in a preliminary Knesset vote marked Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition’s latest step toward implementing the judicial reform that is moving forward despite calls for dialogue and agreement from American Jews and the president of Israel, as well as weekly protests by tens of thousands of Israelis.
To significantly curtail the power of the Supreme Court, which they think has possessed unlimited authority for years, Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultraOrthodox supporters want to pass several measures.
These will, according to critics, weaken democratic standards, consolidate parliamentary authority with the ruling coalition, and transform Israel into an authoritarian democracy.
The proposed judicial reform by the Netanyahu administration has been met with vehement criticism and loud protest both in Israel and abroad.
The first reading of bills to give the ruling coalition control over judicial selections and remove the court’s ability to evaluate Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws was adopted by parliament earlier this week.
A draft measure presented to parliament on Wednesday would require a unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court to change or invalidate a law for doing so.
Nevertheless, parliament would still be able to approve legislation exempt from Supreme Court scrutiny, even if they do so. The initial vote was successful, from 61 to 52.
Before the final votes in parliament to pass this legislation into law, committee approval is now required for each of them.
Following Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, Netanyahu was re-elected as prime minister in December, leading the nation’s most conservative and religious administration in its almost 75-year history.
It has been nearly three years since the veteran leader’s trial began on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and receiving bribes.