Tova Zimuky
Tova Zimuky
Blue & White MK Avi Nissenkorn in the Knesset

The new justice minister has no power

Opinion: While Nissenkorn's appointment seems like positive step, the Blue & White MK will face numerous difficulties from elected officials who are not only critics of court system, but will most torpedo any major new moves

Tova Zimuky |
Published: 04.25.20, 23:31
The announcement of Blue & White MK Avi Nissenkorn as new justice minister was accompanied by a collective sigh of relief from those at the very top of the judicial system. They have been through a very tumultuous year, with frequent threats to the independence of the courts and attempts its sacrifice on the altar of infamy.
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  • And yet, the fact that Nissenkorn's appointment comes with so many restrictions imposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raises the concern that he will end up becoming worn down and cynical.
    3 View gallery
    אבי ניסנקורן
    אבי ניסנקורן
    Blue & White MK Avi Nissenkorn in the Knesset
    (Photo: The Knesset)
    Of course, the fact that the Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit now have public support against the unceasing attacks on the judicial system must not be underestimated.
    Ayelet Shaked had the intelligence to conduct a graceful dance with the judicial system during her time in the post - introducing changes while staying on good terms with its senior officials.
    But her successor Amir Ohana pulled off the mask of civility and went up against the system full throttle, without any reservations.
    While Nissenkorn, a former head of the Histadrut labor federation, will quickly learn that the coalition agreement leaves him without any real authority, it will perhaps allow to make an impact in the one area in which he is well versed - the Labor Court.
    3 View gallery
    L-R: Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked and Chief Justice Esther Hayut
    L-R: Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked and Chief Justice Esther Hayut
    L-R: Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked and Chief Justice Esther Hayut
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    Ohana's Likud and Shaked's Yamina will not change their ways, and will surely most vigorously continue their unceasing attacks on the court system. This will force Nissenkorn to issue nightly statements about “fortifying the rule of law" or "commitment to gatekeepers" or "maintaining the court system's independence."
    But in reality any initiative he takes, any attempt of legislation or any other governmental action, will be shoved into quarantine or at the very least find itself in isolation.
    As chairman of the Legislative Committee, which is the road for any law, be it governmental or private, he will be met with a powerful veto. while his second in the committee will be appointed directly by Netanyahu, and will serve as a watchman.
    When Nissenkorn arrives at the Knesset, he will be greeted by the new Knesset speaker and Netanyahu ally Yariv Levin, a nationalist MK who is also one of the court system’s main critics.
    3 View gallery
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Yariv Levin
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Yariv Levin
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Yariv Levin
    (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
    The coalition agreement states that the chair of the Knesset Constitution Committee and anyone responsible for promoting or delaying any of its initiatives will be a Likud MK.
    If this were not enough, Nissenkorn - as the chairman of the Judicial Selection Committee - will witness first hand how the committee is corrupted when its second minister and one of its other MKs are both from the Likud.
    And while the third MK on the committee is Blue & White’s Zvi Hauser, his conservative views links him directly to the right-wing bloc.
    Even one of the highlights of a justice minister's term - the pick of state prosecutor and attorney general, a process is set to begin in less than two years - comes with a warning. Netanyahu has the right to veto any choices for both positions.
    So unless Nissenkorn suddenly reveals outstanding leadership skills, it seems his term will be nothing but hollow.
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