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    Israel’s Knesset to vote on controversial judicial reform bill Monday – Israel Politics

    The Knesset plenum will likely vote late Monday night for the first reading of the controversial reasonableness standard bill, which would block the court’s ability to evaluate the “reasonableness” of administrative decisions.

    While the agenda for Monday’s plenum has not yet been published, a number of coalition members said last week that they expect the first reading to occur during Monday’s plenum. The plenum begins at 4:00 p.m., and the opposition is likely to filibuster for as long as it can – meaning that the actual vote will only occur late into the night, or even early Tuesday morning.

    The bill’s passage will set off a “Day of Resistance,” protests leaders announced on Thursday.

    Nationwide protests to be held if Israel’s Knesset passes controversial bill

    Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, protestors will hold “demonstrations, marches, convoys and disruptions throughout the country,” the protest leaders added in a statement on Saturday afternoon. Later on, a mass protest will begin outside of the Ben-Gurion Airport, and additional demonstrations and marches will continue during the evening.

    A number of major employers and academic institutions announced on Sunday that they would enable their workers or students to join the protests. These include the BIG shopping center chain, the Agmon law firm, Reichman University, Haifa University, and more.

    Judicial reform protests continue for the 23rd week in a row June 10, 2023. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

    The Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee led by MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party) will begin already on Tuesday to prepare the bill for its second and third reading. Once the bill passes its preparation in the committee, it will return to the plenum for a second and third reading, after which it will become law. The coalition intends to pass the bill into law prior to the Knesset’s summer recess, which begins on July 31.

    President Isaac Herzog called for both sides to return to talks at the President’s Residence on Sunday afternoon, stressing that “agreements are possible.”

    “I can tell you that so many people are turning to me, not only from the public but also from the world of politics and from all sides. They say to me: ‘What a waste. What a tragedy.’ And it is true,” said Herzog. “I can tell you – agreements are possible – in general, and certainly on the specific issue of the reasonableness clause. An agreement is attainable. And yet, still no one is willing to sit down and talk, now, without preconditions. This is a blunder of historic proportions.”

    “I ask our representatives in the Knesset: Is it worth it? Is it really worth it? The numbers, the data, the surveys, and the debates reflect a real and significant public need for dialogue and consensus. It’s clear as day. This is the moment to try – together. This is the moment to think about the bigger picture. Now is the time to think about the consequences. Put egos aside. Come and talk. Cease the terrible divisions. The people expect you to come to your senses, and quickly.”

    What is the reasonableness standard bill?

    The bill in question is an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, which would block Israel’s courts from applying what is known as the “reasonableness standard” to decisions made by elected officials. The reasonableness standard is a common law doctrine that allows for judicial review against government administrative decisions that are deemed beyond the scope of what a responsible and reasonable authority would undertake.

    Proponents of the law argue that it is a highly subjective tool for judicial activism that allows the court to subvert government policy with its own views. Critics, including the attorney general, argue that the tool is essential to counter corruption and to ensure the protection of individuals from arbitrary and capricious government decisions.

    The court used the reasonableness standard, for example, when it ruled in January that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Shas chairman Arye Deri to two ministerial positions, despite three criminal convictions on white-collar crime committed while in power, suffered from “extreme unreasonableness.” Netanyahu was forced to fire Deri. Should the reasonableness standard bill pass into law, the prime minister may attempt to reappoint Deri to his former positions of health minister and interior minister.

    Michael Starr contributed to this report



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