Israeli ministers slam Supreme Court for considering challenges to legality of amendment

Israeli ministers slam Supreme Court for considering challenges to legality of amendment

Opposition raises concerns over democracy

By Abdel Ra'ouf D. A. R. Arnaout and Gulsen Topcu

JERUSALEM (AA) - Israeli ministers criticized the Supreme Court on Thursday for hearing petitions which challenge the legality of an amendment that transfers the authority to dismiss a prime minister from the courts to the Knesset, or parliament.

Objections filed against the law, which was approved by parliament in March, are now being heard by the High Court.

The petitions against the law were filed by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, a non-governmental organization deeply involved in the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform plans, and opposition party Yisrael Beiteinu.

The law essentially protects Netanyahu from being removed from office over claims of a conflict of interest because of his ongoing corruption trial.

"Today, we will see whether three judges will declare the impossibility of democracy in Israel," Transportation Minister Miri Regev said in a post on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel-Atbaryan meanwhile said that "a small group that did not come to power through election ballots is debating whether it is worth canceling the election results of millions of people."

“If you have a problem with the concept, then you are an enemy of democracy,” she said on X.

Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu said the discussion of the law in the High Court clearly violates the balance between the branches of power (legislative, executive and judiciary), harms democracy and elevates the court to the status of a supreme ruler.

Eliyahu noted that people's trust in the judiciary is at an all-time low and emphasized that openly disregarding the will of the people only increases the distrust in the institution, which is a significant and futile mistake.

Yair Lapid, a former prime minister and the head of the main opposition party Yesh Atid, said on the same platform that "a minister who says they will not accept the decision of the High Court cannot remain in office for even a minute. A government that does not recognize the law and the court is not legitimate."

Former Defense Minister and leader of the National Unity Party Benny Gantz asserted that if the government does not respect the court's decision, Israel would cease to be a democratic state.

Former Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar expressed his disapproval of the ministers' statements, saying: "The frenzy of undermining the legitimacy of the High Court and Chief Justice Esther Hayut, along with the ongoing hostility towards Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, is, in essence, a continuation of a coup against the regime. The response to this should be to increase protests."

As part of the reform, the government announced its intention to bring a bill to the Knesset for a second and third vote on July 24 to eliminate the Supreme Court's oversight of the government.

In response to the reform, thousands of Israelis, including war pilots, submarine officers and other elite units who opposed the changes, decided to resign from voluntary reserve service.

*Alperen Aktas contributed to this story from Istanbul

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