The coalition negotiations began officially on Sunday in an attempt to form the next government, and one of the most desirable portfolio appears to be the Justice ministry. MK Bezalel Smotrich, co-chairman of the Rightwing Union, is eager for the assignment, with so many plans to reform the system, that he told Channel 2 News on Sunday he’d been warned that the state prosecution and the courts might tailor a case against him, to slow him down.”
Smotrich made it clear that he was not giving Prime Minister Netanyahu an ultimatum, merely trying to keep his promise to his voters.
“I have an orderly plan that will create much better balance in the relationship between the Knesset, the government and the legal system,” he said in the interview. “It will make Israel a much better place for everyone. Each and every one of us pay the extra cost of too much judicial interference.”
Smotrich said that when he is appointed justice minister he plans to pass clauses that limit the high court’s ability to repeatedly annul Knesset decisions, as well as revoke the court’s ability to cancel executive decisions outright as part of its critique of the executive branch.
“I have a number of bricks that I want to place in the foundations of the court, in order to strengthen the court and fortify its position,” he said, noting that “trust in the judicial system is at an unprecedented low according to all public surveys and studies.”
Since 1992, when Supreme Court President Aharon Barack began his judicial revolution, the court has transformed from the most trusted and beloved Israeli institutions to one of the least popular ones, due to what is being widely perceived as its arbitrary, elitist rule, in defiance of the people’s sovereignty.
Smotrich also referred to statements made by elements in law enforcement and the justice system, calling on Netanyahu not to appoint him as Justice Minister or as Minister of Public Security, saying, “None of us want to believe it’s real.”
Smotrich was referring to Netanyahu’s unique position, facing possible corruption indictments, and the possibility that the PM could get an “easier” treatment were he to block the Rightwing Union leader’s ministerial appointment.
“Do you think that a prime minister will change his mind over threats that one decision or another would affect the work of the investigating authorities? This is unacceptable,” he said.
Israeli media has exposed a tough conversation on election day between Netanyahu and Smotrich, in which the latter warned, “Be careful not to succeed a little too much and remain without a coalition.” Smotrich was referring to Netanyahu’s attempt to siphon votes from his rightwing colleagues, which, indeed, resulted in two potential coalition partners, Bennett’s and Feiglin’s, remaining blow the threshold vote.
It appears Smotrich is not intimidated by the PM and intends to be a tough negotiator in his effort to succeed former minister Ayelet Shaked in Justice.