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Gallant: Government would accept court overturn of ‘reasonableness law’

Several Likud lawmakers say they will only back reform bills with broad support.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset, Dec. 29, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset, Dec. 29, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel’s government would accept a Supreme Court decision to strike down the “reasonableness law” the Knesset passed last week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday.

“Israel is a democratic, law-abiding country. We’ll act according to the law,” Gallant told journalists ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

On July 24, all 64 members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition voted into law a bill to restrict judges’ use of the “reasonableness” standard. The amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

NGOs immediately filed petitions asking the Supreme Court to strike down the law. The court will hear the petitions after the summer recess in September, the court announced on Wednesday. The court did not issue an emergency injunction against the law as several of the seven petitioners had requested.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has confirmed reports that the coalition will seek an agreement with the opposition on the rest of the judicial reform package during the Knesset’s summer break, which starts on Sunday.

In addition, some coalition members have called for unity and reconciliation in recent days, including Transport Minister Miri Regev, Knesset member Boaz Bismuth and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, all members of the Likud Party.

Over the weekend, several Likud lawmakers said they would only back legislation that enjoys broad support from the public. “From now on, everything that goes up [for a vote] will be coordinated with me. And if not? That’s a sign that my vote isn’t needed,” veteran MK Yuli Edelstein told Channel 12 in an interview that aired on Saturday.

A day earlier, Likud’s MK Eli Dellal said that he would not support any unilateral moves on judicial reform. “I will only have a hand in [legislation] achieved through broad national consensus,” he wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Likud responded to Edelstein’s and Dalal’s remarks on Saturday night, stressing that there is “no rebellion” within the governing party’s ranks, as some reports have suggested.

“We all want to reach agreements and need to make the maximum effort to do so, but we will not give the other side [of the reform debate] a veto. Contrary to the opinion of many, the prime minister passed the reasonableness standard law, and contrary to the opinion of many, he also called for a halt until November in order to reach agreement [on further judicial reform legislation],” the official statement read.

Speaking with Kan Reshet Bet radio on Sunday morning, Likud MK Tali Gottlieb likewise said that “there is no rebellion in Likud, [and] nobody is acting on his own in this matter.” 

“Everything is coordinated with Netanyahu. It’s a power play going over [Justice] Minister [Yariv] Levin’s head. They are trying to weaken him,” Gottlieb said.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party on Sunday told the Knesset that Netanyahu agreed to a compromise but eventually gave in to pressure from Levin and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

In his last Knesset speech before the summer recess, Lapid reiterated his conditions for a return to negotiations with the coalition, including an 18-month freeze on all judicial reform legislation.

“As long as there is no legislative freeze, there is no point and no sense to talk about other laws or agreements, because it is quite clear that the government will run away again at the last minute,” Lapid told lawmakers in the plenum.

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