On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in Israel will consider appeals submitted against the effort of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to limit the powers of judges, in a historic session that has already fueled a crisis that has been ravaging the country for months.
The full Supreme Court, consisting of 15 judges, will meet for the first time in Israel’s history to consider appeals submitted by opposition representatives and oversight organizations against an amendment to the judicial system approved by the National Religious Coalition in July.
The legislation removes one of the tools used by the Supreme Court to invalidate the decisions of the government and ministers if it considers them unreasonable, but not all of them.
The ruling may be issued within weeks or months.
The sponsors of the appeals that will be heard by the court today say that the amendment overturns important democratic balances and controls and encourages the abuse of power, adding that the relatively hasty legislative process is itself flawed.
In its legal response to the appeal, the government said that the Supreme Court doesn’t even have the authority to review the “argument of reasonableness” law, which is part of the quasi-constitutional basic law, stressing that considering appeals could “lead to chaos”.
Netanyahu says that the judicial amendments aim to achieve balance in the Supreme Court, which has begun to interfere beyond the limit granted to it.
Netanyahu didn’t give a clear answer when asked whether he would abide by a ruling that would overturn the new legislation.
Netanyahu‘s coalition launched a campaign to pass judicial changes in January, sparking unprecedented protests, spooking investors and causing the value of the Israeli shekel to fall, at a time when Western allies expressed concern about Israel’s democratic system.
According to Netanyahu, some of the proposals have since been cancelled.