Court challenges legislation holding already brittle unity government

Justices hand government three weeks to give grounds for amendments to Basic Laws standing at core of power-sharing deal between Likud and Blue & White; Knesset Speaker Levin calls decision 'outrageous'
Yael Freidson , Moran Azulay|
The High Court of Justice on Thursday has ordered the state to justify within 21 days legislation that stands at the core of the current unity government that regulates its power-sharing deal and the institution of the alternate prime minister.
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  • The petition argues that the alternate prime minister institution as stipulated in the Basic Law: The Government substantially changes the system of government in Israel which stipulates that the country has only one prime minister.
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     בג"ץ דן בהסכם הקואליציוני שנחתם בין הליכוד לכחול לבן
     בג"ץ דן בהסכם הקואליציוני שנחתם בין הליכוד לכחול לבן
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief Justice Esther Hayut and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Oren Ben Hakun, AP)
    According to petitioners, the agreement creates two different governments, each headed by a different prime minister which paralyzes the executive branch in Israel and harms its parliamentary democracy.
    They further argued that the amendment that allowed the unity government's existence was unconstitutional, made through abuse of Knesset's authority, and should be repealed.
    The 3-judge panel that oversaw the hearing – which constituted of Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Deputy Chief Justice Hanan Melcer and Justice Neal Hendel – was expanded to include nine justices.
    The High Court had rejected the petitions against the coalition agreement earlier this year, claiming the court does not intervene in unfinished legislative proceedings and therefore, the judges did not deliberate on clauses in the coalition agreement dealing with future legislation, such as amending the Basic Law: The Government.
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    יריב לוין ראיון אולפן
    יריב לוין ראיון אולפן
    Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin hauled the court over the coals and labeled the decision "outrageous."
    "The High Court of Justice, in its outrageous decision, is laying the groundwork for crossing the red line of intervening in Basic Laws," Levin said. "They do not have the authority to intervene in a way that is contrary to the most basic principles of democracy and is therefore fundamentally void."
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