Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares victory at a Likud party rally early on April 10, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

( — The Likud denied a report that the party is seeking to revoke the High Courts’ oversight on government decisions and Knesset votes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said the report is part of “sensationalist media reports that include proposals that were not discussed, and biased and misleading interpretations meant to prevent any attempt to bring back the balance between the legislative branch, which was elected  by the people, and the judicial branch.”

Ha’aretz reported on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to advance a bill that will mean the court can no longer cancel or require changes to government decisions or laws passed by the Knesset.

This would include the immunity bill for elected officials, which seeks to reverse a change in the law from 2005 and have all MKs automatically be immune to prosecution unless the Knesset votes to strip them of their immunity.

The law would be part of a “judicial appendix” in the coalition agreements, consisting of planned reforms to the judiciary.

“During coalition negotiations, different proposals are brought up by the Likud’s coalition partners, including in the area of bringing back the balance between the legislative and judiciary branches,” Netanyahu’s spokesman explained.

In what could be understood as a confirmation of the “judicial appendix” part of the report, he added that Likud’s guiding principle is “keeping the courts independent and strong, but that does not mean the courts are omnipotent.”

One attempt at keeping the courts in check, proposed by Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) power-player MK Bezalel Smotrich with support from many in Likud, is the “override clause,” which would allow the Knesset to re-pass laws that the Supreme Court struck down.

The reported Likud proposal would broaden the scope of that bill.

Smotrich has made his appointment as justice minister a condition of URP joining the coalition, but Netanyahu prefers to give his close ally, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, the portfolio.

Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid slammed the override clause, calling it the “Turkish Law.”

“It’s a law that will turn us into Edrogan’s Turkey,” he said at a press conference in the Knesset. “If these laws pass, Israel won’t be the same country. Ask yourselves, in which countries does the ruler have immunity from the law?”

Lapid referred to Netanyahu’s attorneys asking Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit to postpone the premier’s hearing, scheduled for July, after which Mandelblit will decide whether to indict Netanyahu on three counts of breach of trust, three of fraud and one of bribery.

“The Attorney-General should cancel Netanyahu’s hearing. He doesn’t deserve one … Netanyahu doesn’t really want a hearing. He wants one thing: to drag the process out. He needs to form his ‘get out of jail’ government,” Lapid said.

According to Lapid, Netanyahu is trying to postpone the hearing until after the Knesset can pass the immunity bill and override clause and he’ll be able to avoid the hearing entirely.

“For that, he’s willing to sell . ..the country to extremists,” Lapid said.


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