Opposition lawmakers boycott key Knesset discussion on contentious judicial reform

Dissenters cite protest of improper procedure as reason for absence; Constitution Committee chair Rothman accuses them of abdicating their duties as panel members

Sivan Hilaie, Tova Zimuky|
Opposition lawmakers announced on Sunday they will boycott a key discussion in the Knesset on a raft of controversial judicial reforms pushed by the government in protest of what they deemed improper legislative procedure.
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  • The Israeli legislature’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee met Sunday morning to hammer out details pertaining to the proposed changes, among them an overhaul of the panel that appoints judges to Israeli courts and a curtailment of the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws approved by a Knesset majority.
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     ועדת חוקה חוק ומשפט
     ועדת חוקה חוק ומשפט
    Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    These changes were compiled by committee chairman Simcha Rothman under a single bill, the text of which was approved by the panel last week, that was tabled for discussion without an opinion from the Knesset's legal advisors, which has not been completed yet.
    At the opening of the discussion, Rothman took a swipe at the absent legislators, some of whom had taken part in protests against the reforms the night before, and implicitly accused them of abdicating their duties as panel members.
    “It’s hard working from the opposition, I should know, I’ve done so for a year and a half,” he said.
    “There are long days and it can get tough, they needed some time off. So I understand how they feel. They must be spent after shouting in the streets, so they didn't have the strength to show up and speak where the decisions are really made, here in the Knesset.”
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     ועדת חוקה חוק ומשפט
     ועדת חוקה חוק ומשפט
    Committee chairman Simcha Rothman
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Two visitors interrupted the meeting, shouting chants in protest of the reform before being ejected from the conference room by ushers.
    In response to a Ynet request for comment, Yesh Atid MK Yoav Segalovitz, one of several opposition lawmakers who boycotted the meeting, said that he refuses to participate in “this kabuki theater that is aimed at dismantling and sullying the system of government in Israel.”
    Yisrael Beitenu MK Yulia Malinovski said that "the discussions are taking place without proper professional background material and without a legal opinion, completely contrary to Knesset protocol and procedure".
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