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Netanyahu reportedly seeks to moderate ‘reasonableness’ bill

The prime minister may allow the courts to use the reasonableness standard when judging individual ministerial decisions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 14, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 14, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to moderate his government’s bill to curtail the Supreme Court’s use of the reasonableness standard, according to Israeli media reports.

According to Channel 11, Netanyahu is considering allowing the court to use reasonableness when judging individual ministerial decisions, but not decisions made by the full Cabinet.

Wording to the effect that ministers also must act reasonably may be inserted into the text of the bill as well, the news site reported.

The report came as the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee completed a marathon 19-hour review of thousands of objections submitted by the opposition to the proposed law.

The bill, an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, would bar the courts from canceling government decisions based on the judicial doctrine of reasonableness.

Proponents of the bill say the standard is legally vague and has been used by the court to encroach upon the government’s authority. Opponents say the bill will erode Israel’s system of checks and balances and lead to an abuse of power.

The bill has already passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum and is expected to come before parliament for its final readings next Monday.

Anonymous U.S. and Israeli officials cited by Israeli news site Walla said that U.S. President Joe Biden had urged Netanyahu in a telephone call on Monday to reach as broad a consensus as possible on the proposed legislation. Netanyahu replied that opposition leaders were unable to hold serious negotiations because they feared the reaction of anti-reform protesters, according to the report.

On Tuesday, protesters held another “Day of Resistance.” By 7 a.m., thousands had blocked major roads, including the coastal highway that connects Tel Aviv and Haifa. Route 2 was blocked at Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, causing long traffic jams in either direction.

One person was injured and at least 37 arrested.

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