In an unprecedented move, Supreme Court president Esther Hayut announced on Monday that all 15 justices of the court will deliberate the petitions against the reasonableness law passed by the Knesset last month.
A hearing on eight petitions that have been filed against the reasonableness law has been scheduled for September 12. It will be the first time that all 15 justices will deliberate on one case, a case that has the potential to cause a major crisis in Israel as it involves a law that was passed as an amendment to a Basic Law. The sole fact that the Supreme Court is deliberating petitions against one of the Basic Laws, which are the equivalent of the US Consitution, is exceedingly rare. If the court chooses to invalidate the law – it will send Israel into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
Some members of the Likud party have stated that they would accept a ruling that invalidates the law but others have already stated that they would not as the court has no authority to strike down a Basic Law.
Likud MK Tally Gotliv stated on Tuesday morning that the “Supreme Court has no authority to interfere with a Basic Law. I am sorry to disappoint you, judges of the Supreme Court, you are really not above the law. A ruling empty of authority is null and void. And just to illustrate – a judge in a Magistrate’s Court who convicts a person of murder [an offense outside his jurisdiction] – his verdict is null and void. Therefore I will not respect interference with Basic Laws.”
The leader of the Likud, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has so far avoided answering the question. In a recent CNN interview, he said: “What we’re talking about is in US terms is the equivalent of the US Supreme Court ruling that an amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional. That’s the kind of spinning we’re talking about and I hope we don’t get to that.”
The Likud issued a statement on Monday saying that “Israeli governments have always been careful to respect the law and the rulings of the court, and the court has always been careful to respect the Basic Laws.”
“These two principles constitute the basis of the rule of law in Israel and of the balance between the authorities in any democracy. Any deviation from one of these principles will seriously harm Israel’s democracy, which particularly during these days needs calmness, dialogue, and responsibility.”
Yair Lapid and other opposition leaders excoriated the Likud for the statement, claiming that the party is “threatening” the Supreme Court justices.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)