130 academics signed a petition opposing the “override clause,” which would give sweeping powers to the government
The threat to democracy during Netanyahu’s sixth government will be more real than before. This comes as his Likud party seeks to include the proposal of the so-called “Override Clause” bill in the coalition agreements.
According to reports, the coalition agreements will include a commitment to enact an “override clause,” which would allow the Knesset to enact laws that have been overturned by the Supreme Court. A number of right-wing leaders have announced that they intend to enact the aforementioned bill immediately after the formation of the government. This bill would allow them to expand the powers of the Knesset and prevent the Supreme Court from interfering in “the work of the government,” in their view.
In response to these reports, a group of researchers and lecturers in Israeli universities published a petition against the proposal. 130 academics signed the petition, which was published in media outlets this week. The academics, which come from both right and left-wing political backgrounds, intend to take part in Knesset sessions, where they will put forward their strong opposition to the bill.
The lecturers and researchers wrote in their petition that they “intend to warn that the override clause, in its form published in the media, will severely affect the protection of human rights in Israel. If the proposed override clause is enacted, the Knesset will be able, by a majority of 61 members, to immunize any law that infringes on human rights from any constitutional criticism by the Supreme Court, and to annul any decision of the Supreme Court that considers a law to be invalid because it seriously infringes upon individual rights. Such an overriding clause would allow the infringement of human rights, even the most basic ones, without any restrictions.”
The idea of the override clause, which has no analog in any other country, seeks to give the Knesset the power to re-enact laws that have been rejected by the Supreme Court, thereby eroding its power and legitimacy as an institution. A law like this might give the government unprecedented power and freedom to enact racist laws that violate the rights of minorities.
In the State of Israel, the Supreme Court is the only body that monitors the work of the Knesset and the government, as there is no constitution to set up a system of checks and balances on the government. In such a case, when a petition is filed against a law, the court has the power to examine the law and reject it, if there is a contradiction between it and the Basic Laws (which have constitutional-like authority in the country) of the State of Israel, according to the court’s analysis Since the enactment of the Basic Laws in 1992 which gave it the power to strike down legislation, the Supreme Court has repealed 22 laws. The override clause threatens to bring back all of them and severely erode the limits on the power of the government in Israel.