Economy Minister Nir Barkat (Likud) on Tuesday took a ride on his party’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin who declared he would not obey the Supreme Court should it annul his judicial reform because such a move would “constitute crossing a red line” (Levin Justifies Reform Downgrading, Will Not Accept Nullification by the Court), and declared: “In the event that the High Court, God forbid, rejects the amendments, I will respect the court’s decision as stated.”
Speaking at the International Bay Conference for Regionality (dealing with promoting critical issues related to the Haifa Bay area), Barak’s announcement was the ultimate attempt to please everybody which, frankly, didn’t come across as thoughtful and brave, but as cowardly and superficial:
Part 1 of Barak’s statement was: “The reforms in the judicial system in Israel are a necessity borne by reality. Chief among them, the diversity of the judges and giving expression to the human mosaic that makes up Israeli society. I fully support the necessary amendments to the judicial system and there is no room for the intervention of the High Court of Justice or the invalidation of the laws.”
Part 2 went: “At the same time, I do not support, under any circumstances, walking blindly toward a constitutional crisis. The interest of the State of Israel for me is above all else. I will not lend my voice and hand to chaos whereby the citizens of Israel would lose confidence in both the government and justice system at once. I believe that we will find a path to a broad consensus for diversifying the composition of the judges for the benefit of the citizens of Israel.”
In mathematical terms, Barak declared: the court system in Israel is distorted and must be changed –> Therefore, I will support the distorted court when it quashes this attempt to heal its distortions.
But as often is the case with political cowards, Barak’s declaration of fealty to a broken court was contradicted by a brave statement from the Likud party: “The absurd discussion of a constitutional crisis only illustrates how necessary the judicial reform is to restore the proper balance between the branches of government. The Supreme Court has no authority or grounds to intervene in an amendment to the basic law that determines how the judges will be appointed, just as it did not intervene in the past when the law was amended more than a decade ago. The principle that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to invalidate basic laws appears in all the proposed outlines, including the president’s outline, and it will be established by the judicial reform. Therefore, there is no room for a constitutional crisis.”
Maariv cited a senior Likud official who offered the sensible argument that “the Supreme Court cannot discuss a petition against the amendment of the Committee to Elect Judges because the court is a party to it and may not directly affects it.”
According to a Forbes 2021 report, Barak’s net worth was NIS 1.3 billion ($355 million). So, not a billionaire in US terms, but you know, comfortable.