Sunday, 18 November 2018

Top Israeli Lawmaker: Knesset a ‘Funny Farm,’ Netanyahu and Bennett Care Only About Spin

Top Israeli Lawmaker: Knesset a ‘Funny Farm,’ Netanyahu and Bennett Care Only About Spin
03 Jul

In a letter to party members, Roy Folkman, the Kulanu whip, defended party leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s objections to proposed legislation that would reduce the power of the nation’s Supreme Court.

Folkman wrote that “the Knesset is a funny farm” and that “Kahlon is a real man who understands that the court defends the weak, and that Netanyahu and Bennett care only about a couple of days’ spin.”

The backdrop for his comments, which were made over two months ago, was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s drive to legislate an amendment that would permit the Knesset to approve laws overruled by the High Court of Justice. The proposed amendment would require a majority of 61 lawmakers to re-approve any law rejected by the court. Kahlon objected to the efforts to advance this legislation and ordered party members to vote against it. He agreed only to a portion of the amendment referring specifically to the issue of asylum seekers. Netanyahu wound up reneging on the amendment and it has not yet been brought to the Knesset for debate. 

At the height of public debate about the issue, some Kulanu members asked to support the amendment, arguing that the high court’s powers ought to be limited. Their request prompted Folkman to send out his letter, backing Kahlon and detailing his own objections to the proposal. 

“The Knesset tends to create a momentary and sector-specific majority,” he wrote. “The day may come when we will approve under pressure in the media administrative detentions without trial or eavesdropping on NGOs, or a tax exemption solely for yeshiva students, or a tax break solely for towns that vote for Likud. Members of the gay community could be barred from sitting in cafes.”

He noted, “Every week the prime minister and members of his cabinet beg the high court to decide politically explosive issues.”

After a number postponements, which were made for various excuses, the override clause never came up for a vote in the Knesset. The opposition and legal experts, including the attorney general, slammed the proposed amendment. Raz Nizri, the deputy attorney general, said in May that “the attorney general’s position is that all the proposals should be opposed.”



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