Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday submitted his response to the High Court of Justice regarding petitions seeking to prevent Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu from being assigned the role of cobbling together the next coalition government, as well as petitions demanding the cancellation of the coalition agreement between Likud and Blue&White.
The AG’s position is that despite the significant difficulties that are raised by the issues in question, these do not justify judicial intervention, because this would mean that most MKs would be prevented from attempting to establish a new government in Israel under MK Netanyahu.
As to the various claims made regarding the coalition agreement, the AG believes that, on their face, certain understandings that were laid down in the new coalition agreement create significant difficulties. However, in his opinion, there was is no cause at this stage to disqualify the coalition agreement.
Therefore, the AG believes that the remedies seeking to cancel the coalition agreement or some of its clauses should also be rejected. He believes that an examination of the legality of the various arrangements in the coalition agreement should only be done once the coalition government hits the road and the agreement takes effect.
But the AG warned the high court that the coalition agreement promotes significant constitutional changes, including creating a new model of government that is not an organic part of Israel’s system of government. These come in the form of articles that seek to change the power relationship between the government and the Knesset, and between opposition factions and coalition factions within the Knesset.
Yes, one could say that having two, concurrent prime ministers would constitute a significant constitutional change…
The coalition agreement also states that during the current emergency period, appointments and staffing in the public sector will be frozen, including appointments to senior positions, which also include appointments in the law enforcement system. To this end, the coalition agreement sought to add provisions regarding the identity of MKs who will serve on the Judiciary Committee.
These individual arrangements will require careful examination, whether in the legislative process or on the administrative level, to make sure that the significant difficulties—which are already evident on the surface, will receive a fitting response, the AG cautioned the court.
The High Court also asked for the Knesset’s response to the petitions, and the Knesset stated that it did not believe judicial intervention in the decision of the MKs to express their confidence in the next government, even should the PM be forced to face criminal indictments. Also, since the Knesset is not an administrative authority, the reasonableness of its decisions should not be examined by the court.
The Knesset also argued that the coalition agreement is an essentially political decision, made on the basis of a very broad range of considerations, which leaves no place the court to enter and conduct a judicial review.