Rosenberg says Netanyahu went too far with Supreme Court veto

Rosenberg says Netanyahu went too far with Supreme Court veto

Rosenberg says Netanyahu went too far with Supreme Court veto

A leading media figure in Israel says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going too far and too fast in efforts to bring unprecedented change to the Jewish state’s high court.

Joel C. Rosenberg, the best-selling author and editor of the news site AllIsrael.com, is a strong proponent for change to the Supreme Court but believes Netanyahu’s actions go past necessary reform and could leave the court powerless.

Several elements of reform are proposed, but the most controversial of the Netanyahu push – which before mass civil unrest seemed headed for finality before Passover and Easter – is the language that would allow the government to veto Supreme Court decisions.

“I support an override clause meaning if the Supreme Court keeps doing something that’s just unfair, unreasonable, has no basis in the law, then you have to be able to override it, but the Netanyahu plan requires only a simple majority to overturn a Supreme Court decision, meaning out of our 120 Knesset or parliament members you only need 61 to overturn,” Rosenberg told American Family Radio’s Jenna in the Morning on Tuesday. “I’m sorry, I love the prime minister for many reasons, and 22 years ago I worked for him for a few months, but 61 out of 120, a simple majority? That’s crazy!”

More crazy, at least in the eyes of many Israeli citizens, came on Sunday when Netanyahu suddenly fired defense minister and trusted aide Yoav Gallant. Amid rising political tension Gallant delivered a speech on live television Saturday night urging Netanyahu to slow down on his push of the legislation. He reasoned that more time would allow Israelis to calm down as they focused on Passover and Easter as well as Ramadan.

The rush to change brought the possibility of weakened national security as many combat soldiers, intelligence officers and fighter pilots said they would walk off the job if Netanyahu was successful in pushing through the legislation. They fear such change would signal an end of democracy in Israel.

Netanyahu balked at the threats and urged commanders of the Israeli Defense Forces to take action against any who would follow through.

Still, instead of slowing things down Netanyahu threw fuel on the fire by firing Gallant, a political teammate, not a left-leaning member of the opposition.

Rosenberg said Gallant had made private appeals to Netanyahu before going public Saturday night.

Netanyahu 'put a pause' on plan

“This has been building so much for the last six months that 600,000 Israelis turned out into the streets over the weekend … 600,000 turned out to protest this current bill. That’s 6 ½ percent of our entire population. You can imagine it was huge,” Rosenberg said.

That same percentage would equate to more than 20,000,000 protestors in the US.

The people were heard, and Netanyahu – after several delays – addressed the nation and said he would engage in talks with National United party leader Benny Gantz.

“By Monday all the ports closed, airports shut down, workers didn’t come to work, McDonald’s closed, schools closed, the universities closed, the banks closed,” Rosenberg said. “It was the worst crisis we’ve ever seen domestically here. Netanyahu is a smart politician, and it didn’t take much to read the tea leaves, so he announced to the public that he would put a pause on the legislation, and he’s gathering opposition leaders in the coming days, Lord willing, to discuss it.”

Rosenberg said the Supreme Court has done a good job of protecting human rights across all faiths but has angered many by striking down conservative legislation.

“Most of Israel is center-right. The left wing barely exists here. It’s one of the few democracies in the world where the left wing has imploded because people here have rejected socialism, they’ve rejected giving away land to terrorists to supposedly get peace right,” Rosenberg said. “The whole country has been moving rightward yet the Supreme Court keeps shooting down legislation that the whole country wants. So Netanyahu said enough is enough.”

Israelis didn't want powerless court

Unlike the United States, where the president appoints Supreme Court justices who must then be approved by the Senate, justices in Israel are appointed by committee. Rosenberg calls it a “complicated formula” that involves sitting Supreme Court justices, other jurists and people in academia.

Netanyahu’s political allies might understand his frustration, but many fear giving so much power to a prime minister who won’t always be in charge.

“The majority could just decide whatever it wants, and it could override a civil right, a political right for Arabs, for Christians for other Jews, Jews who don’t believe like you believe. That would be disastrous, and this is what’s got people scared. It’s got Air Force pilots and combat soldiers and workers and business people, high tech people, investors going, ‘Wait a minute,” Rosenberg said. “You should reform the Supreme Court, but you can’t emasculate it and give it no power. Otherwise we don’t have three branches of government in Israel. In a parliamentary system don’t have checks and balances except the Supreme Court.”

AllIsrael.com contributed to this report.