P.M Netanyahu was informed to avoid involvement in initiatives to change the judicial system


by Ifi Reporter Category:Law Feb 2, 2023

Legal advisor to the government Gali Beharve-Miara informed Prime  Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he should avoid involvement in initiatives to change the judicial system. According to a letter sent by the consultant,

"there is a reasonable fear of a conflict of interest" between Netanyahu's personal affairs, relating to the trial in which he is accused, "and essential components of the initiatives". According to her, Netanyahu should also avoid "giving direct or indirect guidance through other parties when it comes to promoting the initiatives", and according to her, this also applies to "consultations and informal actions". The letter was sent to Netanyahu and published this morning.
In the opinion document, authored by deputy ombudsman Gil Limon, it is written that "the completion of these initiatives, and even some of them, will lead to a regime and legal reality that benefits the prime minister in terms of the administration of his justice compared to the existing situation, since the independence of the legal institutions will be harmed vis-à-vis the executive authority. Important guarantees for the ability of these institutions to guarantee the equality of all before the law - will be compromised, and the independence of the gatekeepers, which is essential to prevent illegitimate influences on the judicial process - will be weakened. Alongside this, the coalition's ability to promote legislation that will help the Prime Minister's personal interests will increase."
The opinion also states that "the aggregate result of the initiatives for changes in the judicial system that are already in work processes in the government and the Knesset, is a fundamental change in the balance point that exists between the governing authorities in the State of Israel - a significant strengthening of the status of the executive authority in the face of the weakening of the judicial authority and the system of legal advice to the government." According to Limon, the initiatives are being promoted by Justice Minister Levin and at the same time by the Knesset's Constitution Committee and they are integrated with each other and are part of one broad and comprehensive move.
Referring to the change proposed by the Netanyahu government in the composition of the Committee for the Selection of Judges, Lemon wrote that "the involvement of the Prime Minister in the initiative to change the composition of the Committee for the Selection of Judges and its powers is in contradiction to the limitations approved in the ruling in the conflict of interest petition. Such a change concerns the Prime Minister's personal interests and is therefore affected by a clear conflict of interest."
According to Lemon, the change in the composition of the committee may affect in a number of contexts the judges of the District Court in Jerusalem (heard in the Alfis cases, H.M.) and the judges of the Supreme Court - the court authorized to hold a legal review of the decisions made as part of the conduct of the criminal proceedings against Netanyahu, and in the appeal of the verdict in the Netanyahu case As soon as one is submitted in the future.
Lemon also notes that the change proposed by the Netanyahu government "will increase the influence of the executive authority on the identity of the judges who will be elected to these courts. The Committee for the Selection of Judges holds powers in connection with the removal of judges from their positions, the committee will determine the identity of the President of the Supreme Court, who has significant administrative powers."
According to Lemon, the reduction of judicial review of legislation and the superseding clause that the Netanyahu government plans to enact will allow "extreme freedom of action for the enactment of laws that affect the very nature of the criminal procedure, its management and its results." According to him, the Prime Minister's involvement in the initiative contradicts the conflict of interest restrictions in Netanyahu's case.
Lemon also wrote that Netanyahu is also in a conflict of interest in relation to the move his government is promoting to abolish the reason for reasonableness, since the move will remove restrictions that currently apply to Netanyahu. "For example, if the reason for reasonableness is eliminated, the Supreme Court will not be able to review the reasonableness of appointments of senior officials in the law enforcement system," he wrote.
The agreement that Netanyahu signed in 2020 and ratified by the High Court regulates the legal issues in which he is prevented from engaging due to his trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. As part of the plan to weaken the judicial system, a change is planned in the composition of the committee for the selection of judges that will take away the right of veto from the judges and give politicians more power Thanks to the addition of two public representatives to be chosen by the Minister of Justice, if the coalition controls the committee for selecting judges, it will also control the promotion of the judges who are currently hearing the Netanyahu cases.
According to the agreement, Netanyahu is prohibited from interfering "in the appointments and appointment procedures of senior officials in the legal advice to the government, the Ministry of Justice and the Israel Police who handle the criminal proceedings against the prime minister or who are able to influence it, as well as matters concerning the status and fulfillment of the duties of these officials." However, according to the stages of the plan to weaken the judicial system published in "Haaretz", Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin plan to split the position of the ombudsman. This stage has so far been presented in closed conversations to government ministers only in general. This, due to the sensitivity of promoting such a move while against Netanyahu Sentence.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin said today that "the consultant and her team are busy writing another opinion whose purpose is to prevent the prime minister from expressing his views. It turns out that a conflict of interest is a strange thing. An elected official is not allowed to talk about reform in legal advice, but the legal consultant and her team are allowed to act to thwart the reform that directly affects to their powers".
Last week, Netanyahu claimed that he is allowed to discuss the plan to weaken the justice system according to the conflict of interest settlement he signed. "I am acting exactly according to my conflict of interest agreement," he said at a press conference held at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, "I am acting with the advice of jurists and lawyers." However, the plan includes a change in the composition of the committee for the selection of judges, which increases the power of the politicians in it, while the settlement states that Netanyahu is required to "avoid any involvement in matters relating to the activities of the committee for the selection of judges, as far as the judges of the Supreme Court and the District Court in Jerusalem are concerned."
In a response to the High Court that she submitted about two weeks ago, Rabbi Miara clarified that the conflict of interest settlement that Netanyahu signed about three years ago is still in effect, and it applies even now as far as his legal affairs are concerned. his hand
"My role personally, as well as the role of the legal advisory system for the government as a whole, is to assist the elected echelon to implement its policy within the limits of the law," the ombudsman wrote to the Prime Minister at the time in a letter attached as an appendix to her response to the petition.



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