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‘Reasonableness’ bill advances to final Knesset votes

The Constitution Committee dealt with almost 28,000 proposed amendments to the legislation.

MK Simcha Rothman (center), head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, with MK Ofir Katz (left) after the panel met in Jerusalem, July 19, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
MK Simcha Rothman (center), head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, with MK Ofir Katz (left) after the panel met in Jerusalem, July 19, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee late Wednesday night approved for final readings a bill to limit the Supreme Court’s use of the reasonableness standard.

With nine lawmakers voting in favor and seven opposed, the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary will now head back to the plenum for the second and third readings needed for it to become law.

Opposition Knesset members caused a scene during the deliberations over the bill, which would bar “reasonableness” as a legal justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

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

Members of the opposition shouted “Shame” and Labor MK Gilad Kariv was removed after waving pictures of the International Criminal Court and accusing committee chairman Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) of neglecting IDF soldiers.

MK Gilad Kariv is removed for disrupting a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting, July 19, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

“What is currently on the table is a bad law that violates the basic rights of Israeli citizens and may harm their security as well,” Yisrael Beiteinu MK Yulia Malinovsky said.

“It is not too late to open the text to revision because what is currently in the text completely neuters the legal system and deprives the citizens of Israel of any tools to deal with the bullying of the politicians,” the lawmaker continued.

The vote came after a marathon session with almost 28,000 reservations (proposed amendments) lodged by opponents of the bill.

Coalition members welcomed the approval.

“We did it. A holiday for democracy and all of Israel! Many thanks to the dedicated chairman of the committee, Simcha Rothman, for the hard work, on Monday in the plenary!” coalition whip MK Ofir Katz (Likud) said.

Rothman replied: “Your mobilization together with that of the coalition was the basic prerequisite for us to reach this moment.”

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