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Israeli right wing takes on Supreme Court

The claim by HaBayit HaYehudi leaders that their latest initiative is intended to create a balance of power between the different government branches is nothing but a smoke screen; their real purpose is to undermine the Supreme Court.

On Sept. 14, HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and the No. 2 member of his party, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, dropped a political bombshell with their initiative to limit the power of the Supreme Court. It could eventually lead to a genuine constitutional crisis.

The two described the move as nothing less than revolutionary. It will be based on their proposed Basic Law legislation, which would limit the Supreme Court's authority to overturn laws approved by the Knesset. As of now, the Supreme Court can overturn laws if the judges interpret them as conflicting with Basic Laws (Israel has no constitution). What Bennett and Shaked are proposing is a set of clearly defined conditions under which the court could overturn a law, limiting its power to those circumstances only. Furthermore, the law would include an Article of Overruling, which would allow the Knesset, under certain conditions, to approve a law even though it was overturned by the Supreme Court. Bennett and Shaked have yet to set the parliamentary majority, which will be needed to reject the Supreme Court's decision to overturn a law. But based on their tenuous relationship with the legislative branch, it is reasonable to assume that it would not require a special majority.

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