High court will strike down judicial reform law – former AG Mandelbit

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The High Court of Justice will issue an injunction against an impending judicial reform bill, former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit told senior economic leaders at the University of Haifa on Sunday.

He said that if the government ignored the ruling, the country would be ostracized in the international community.

Mandelblit said the injunction would be issued against the judicial reform bill that would change the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee. He said it would soon pass in the Knesset.

“We are now in ‘money time’ and it will happen very quickly,” said Mandelblit. “If the government does not accept the ruling of the High Court, the State of Israel will have finished its story as part of the family of nations. The costs for this will be severe, and I believe and hope that it will not come to that.”

Mandelblit said he was therefore “cautiously optimistic” about the resolution to the crisis.

Compromises to the reform

The former attorney-general was not, however, keen on the current negotiations outlines presented thus far. On Thursday, the Freidmann outline was presented and warmly received by coalition leaders. That same day, President Isaac Herzog issued a stark warning about the dangers if the two sides did not reach a compromise.

“It is better not to reach a compromise than a bad compromise. I am always in favor of a compromise and in favor of negotiations, but it is impossible to compromise on the government appointing its own judges and legal advisers and its own commissioner,” said Mandelblit. “It is in no way possible to compromise the independence of the Attorney-General’s Office and the High Court.”

The current reform plan would harm the independence of the two bodies, said Mandelblit, in which case Israel would become a dictatorship.

“If the legal advisers are appointed by the government and the judges are appointed by the government, what is left of the Declaration of Independence? It becomes a piece of paper that can be thrown in the trash,” said Mandelblit.

Mandelblit had explained that the High Court and legal advisers were the first line of defense for the values in the declaration. He said he had in the past called to establish the principles detailed in the declaration into law, but he was told that it was unnecessary as no one would think to harm them.

The former attorney-general had previously railed against the ongoing judicial reforms in a February 28 speech at the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference.

There, he had called it the court’s duty to strike down any legislation that would harm the liberal democratic system of Israel.

He had also emphasized at the conference that Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals were not a judicial reform, but a coup d’état.