The High Court on Friday ordered Attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond within a month to the petition of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which demands that Netanyahu be declared incapacitated for his involvement in the judicial reform.
According to the Knesset website, the term “incapacitated” describes a situation in which a government official cannot fulfill his duties for certain reasons. The lack of ability to fulfill these duties can be temporary if the office bearer will return to fulfill his position, or permanent if it is clear that the office bearer will not return to fulfill his duties.
Regarding the incapacity of the Prime Minister, Article 16 of the Basic Law: The government establishes instructions regarding the filling of the position of the Prime Minister. According to section (a), if the prime minister is absent from the country, his deputy will call the government meetings and preside over them. According to section (b), if the Prime Minister is temporarily unable to fulfill his duties, the Acting Prime Minister will take his place. If 100 consecutive days have passed in which the acting prime minister served instead of the prime minister, the prime minister is considered to be permanently prevented from fulfilling his duties. According to Article 20(b) of the Basic Law, if the Prime Minister is prevented from fulfilling his duties permanently, the government is considered to have resigned on the 101st day on which the Acting Prime Minister holds office.
And that, folks, is how a judicial Coup D’état happens in Israel:
The good government folks didn’t come up with the idea on their own. The move was clearly manufactured by the AG. Last week, Baharav-Miara ordered Netanyahu to refrain from interfering with changes in the judicial system due to his conflict of interest because of his trial. The AG sent the PM a letter “regarding the implementation of the opinion for the prevention of conflict of interest prepared for him during his previous term of office, concerning initiatives for changes in the judicial system.”
According to her notice, “The AG’s letter was drawn up, among other things, against the background of inquiries received and allegations of fear of a conflict of interest due to the Prime Minister’s involvement in the said initiatives, and against the background of the overall picture of the legislative initiatives on the subject.”
In other words: the former AG, Avichai Mandelblit, orders the prosecution to indict the PM on charges of breach of trust, accepting bribes, and fraud; the High Court rules that as long as he is not found guilty, Netanyahu is free to participate in Israeli politics; Netanyahu wins the election and becomes prime minister; now the court is weighing restricting his involvement in state affairs – even though he is still just as innocent-before-proven-guilty today as he was on election day. The reason? His government is planning to reform the judicial system.
Inconsistent? You bet. Can they do it to him? You bet. Even if they can’t show any connection between Netanyahu’s current trial, which is being conducted before a panel of three District Court judges in Jerusalem, and whatever changes Justice Minister Yariv Levin is planning.
Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich responded on Friday, just before Shabbat, to the Court’s response to the petition on Netanyahu’s incapacity, saying: “The High Court’s decision not to outright reject the petition to declare the Prime Minister’s incapacity is the best proof of the necessity of the reform we are leading. The very discussion of thwarting the voter’s decision and the will of the people is a mega-attack on Israeli democracy and another low point reached by the Supreme Court judges.”
On Saturday night, all the leaders of the coalition parties issued a statement saying they “strongly reject the illegitimate discussion in the High Court regarding the ‘incapacity’ of the Prime Minister. This is an illegal attempt to oust a sitting Prime Minister, which is no different from a military coup.
“No legal entity, including the High Court, has even a fraction of authorization by law for such an action. Only the people will elect the prime minister. And only the people, through their representatives in the Knesset, will decide whether to terminate his term of office.
“The people and their representatives will never accept a judicial discussion about the possibility of a coup. They will never accept an illegal judicial annulment of the elections and the sovereignty of the people. This attempt to assassinate Israel’s democracy is an act that has a black flag flying over it even when it is done under the cover of judicial robes.”