Normally, there is no need to be alarmed by constitutional changes, and not even by a proposed law allowing members of Knesset to overturn the Supreme Court ruling with only a simple majority. This time, however – contrary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations – the Israeli public should start panicking.
Because this time, it’s not just bickering between the officials, it’s not a fight for governance and it’s not justified criticism of judicial activism. This time it is a lethal, dangerous, and anti-constitutional mixture of a new law protecting his immunity from prosecution and a push for a legislation to overturn Supreme Court decisions. In other words – Erdoğanization.
These pieces of legislation are still being promoted but the recent statements made by some Likud MKs – as well as the close ties between Netanyahu and the future justice minister, Bezalel Smotrich – indicate the passing of these laws is only a matter of time.
The law allowing members of Knesset to overturn the Supreme Court ruling is only needed in order to pass the – coveted by the prime minister – law granting him immunity from prosecution. Furthermore, the law will most likely also grant immunity to other public officials suspected of being involved in criminal activity.
These proposals have been circulating in the Knesset for awhile, but those who have been warning us about them were accused of crying wolf. Well, now the wolf is at the door, and let’s hope the public realizes how terrifying this wolf is, because turning the Knesset into a safe haven for criminals, crosses all red lines.
The prime minister is allowed to criticize the Supreme Court, because in some cases that criticism is warranted. He can also make an argument that everyone should respect the will of the voter. However, the Likud leaders – including Netanyahu himself – on the eve of the elections claimed they wouldn’t try to pass any piece of legislation that would exempt the prime minister from facing criminal proceedings.
Thus, dear Likud MKs, please don’t manipulate us with the “majority’s will” rhetoric, because it’s incredibly deceptive. Netanyahu said on Monday it’s a matter of governance, and the potential Erdoğanization is not on the agenda. These sort of statements should undoubtedly raise a red flag with the Israeli public.
Currently we are at a crossroads, because if these pieces of legislation pass, Israel will be in a constitutional crisis. The clash between the Supreme Court and the Knesset will be unavoidable. This time the Supreme Court needs to be strong not in order to impose the will of the minority on the majority, but rather the will of the majority on the minority.
Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News