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The judicial coup attempt in Israel is outrageous

If one thing has been made clear by recent events in the Jewish state, it is that Israel’s elected politicians must regain control of the out-of-control judiciary.

Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justic Esther Hayut (center) and justices at a hearing in Jerusalem, on March 14, 2019. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justic Esther Hayut (center) and justices at a hearing in Jerusalem, on March 14, 2019. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Ken Abramowitz
Ken Abramowitz

Israel entered a sad political chapter over the past month. Following the country’s March 2 national election—the third in less than 12 months—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its right-wing bloc captured 59 seats out of the Israeli parliament’s 120. Rival Blue and White and the left-wing bloc captured 61.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who has the obligation to decide who should be given the first chance to try to form a government following an election, chose Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who heads Blue and White.

However, Blue and White’s ostensible majority coalition included the Joint Arab List’s 15 seats. The Joint List representatives reject a) Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and b) Israel’s Basic Laws—which are the equivalent of America’s Constitution. By giving the go-ahead to this coalition, Rivlin neglected his own responsibility to be loyal to the Basic Laws.

Blue and White then immediately moved to illegitimately take over key Knesset committees before a new government could be officially formed, with the goal of advancing legislation to oust Netanyahu and prevent him from forming a government. Israel’s left-leaning Supreme Court joined the coup, ordering Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to call a vote to appoint a new speaker.

In response, Edelstein rightly resigned.

So how will this attempted coup run its course? Fortunately, it seems as though sanity may prevail. A unity government is in the process of formation, though serious challenges remain. Hopefully, the trumped-up charges against Netanyahu will be dropped.

So what have we learned from all this? In the future:

1) Israel’s Attorney General and Supreme Court justices should be directly appointed by the prime minister, subject to approval by the Knesset Judiciary Committee.

2) Israel’s Supreme Court must be stripped of its power to nominate justices. Israel’s elected political forces must regain control of the out-of-control judiciary. The Israeli judiciary must be prevented from participating in any future coup attempts.

Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.

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