According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin have refuted reports that the Likud had accepted a compromise on judicial reform proposed by President Isaac Herzog on Monday.
On Monday night, the White House released a statement that read, “In the last few weeks, the president has made a special effort to prevent a judicial crisis and present a solution that would preserve democracy and the unity of Israel.”
According to the statement, “as part of the efforts, the president has held talks with coalition and opposition leaders with the goal of encouraging dialogue that would lead to broad agreements.”
Netanyahu reportedly gave the go-ahead for a proposal, according to a report by the N12 news channel. According to reports, this plan called for the Judicial Selection Committee to remain in place, renewed legislation on a softer reasonability standard, and the freezing of all reform legislation for a year and a half.
Soon after the publication of the report, Netanyahu and Levin each categorically denied knowing about the proposal or having accepted it. Right-wing MKs declared that they would oppose any agreements that would halt the legal reform process.
The High Court of Justice is scheduled to hold two pivotal hearings this month regarding judicial reform when the announcement of new negotiations is made.
The High Court will hear appeals of the law’s reasonableness standard, which was passed at the end of July, on September 12. The High Court can no longer overturn administrative decisions made by the prime minister, the cabinet, or a minister because they were deemed to be highly unreasonable after the Basic Law: Judiciary was amended.
As soon as the amendment was passed, petitions were filed against it, and on Monday, Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara urged the High Court to invalidate it, warning that doing so would spark a constitutional crisis because the High Court has never invalidated a basic law amendment.
Simcha Rothman, the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, asked Chief Justice Esther Hayut to recuse herself from the panel considering appeals of the government’s reasonability law on the grounds that she is prejudiced on the subject. In a speech in January, Hayut criticized the suggested judicial reforms.
Rothman’s petition was denied by Hayut, who argued that her speech was appropriate for her position as chief justice and “reflected my deep concern about harm to the independence of the judiciary by the plan presented by the justice minister.
She continued, “Among other things, I referred to the challenge of the cancellation of the test of reasonableness that was part of the minister’s plans in my speech. The High Court will meet once more a week after the reasonability standard hearing, this time to hear complaints in opposition to Levin’s refusal to call the Judicial Selection Committee.
After passing the reasonableness standard amendment, the coalition stated that reforming the committee was the next item on the reform agenda. Levin has refused to call the Judicial Selection Committee until the reform has been approved.
By the end of the year, Israel will have 53 open judicial positions, including two High Court justices, necessitating the formation of the committee, which will result in an overburden on the judicial system.