Photo Credit: Adi Gefen / TPS
Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein

by Andrew Friedman

Knesset members returned to work Monday amidst a raucous flurry of political posturing, controversial bill proposals and a series of ongoing criminal investigations into accusations of alleged corruption by Prime Minister Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara and several former aides.

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The opening of the parliamentary winter session is marked largely by a list of controversial measures, including bills to legalize the Jewish character of the state, to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and a proposal by MK Dudi Amsallem (Likud) to block criminal investigations into accusations against sitting prime ministers on allegations of fraud, bribery or breach of trust.

Amsallem insists the latter bill is not crafted to shield Netanyahu and says the bill, should it become law, would not apply to investigations that have already been launched. But some MKs have voiced concerns that the law could be applied retroactively.

The measure made headlines in recent days when Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked refused to pledge the support of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction, saying coalition members needed time to debate the far-reaching measure, prompting a furious response by MK David Bitan, the coalition chairman and a close ally of Netanyahu.

Ahead of the session, Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett said his party’s ‘main objective’ during the winter session will be passing legislation aimed at giving the Knesset the authority to overturn decisions made by the High Court of Justice.

“The government will govern, the Knesset will legislate, and the court will judge,’ said Bennett. “There are judges in Jerusalem, but they have forgotten that there is also a government. The High Court has been striking down laws in recent times at an unprecedented rate. The Court is not supposed to intervene based on whether or not they are happy with a law.”

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