Netanyahu attempting to deter justices, judicial officials say

Prime minister's announced intent to revamp the committee for selecting judges comes as the Supreme Court hears petitions to throw out a law that prevents his ouster for any reason other than physical or mental incapacity
Tova Zimuky, Moran Azulay|
Officials in Israel's legal system said on Monday that they heard a threat from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he said he would complete legislation to change the way judges are selected after a bill already making its way through the Knesset requires only a final vote.
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The panel for selecting judges now comprises three Supreme Court justices, two Cabinet ministers, two parliamentarians and two lawyers. A vote of at least 7-2 is required to approve an appointment, a threshold designed to encourage compromise.
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בנימין נתניהו
בנימין נתניהו
Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: Oren Ben Hakun, Alex Kolomoisky )
Under the bill drawn up by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the panel would be expanded to 11 members – seven of them aligned with or brought in by the government, giving it a potential automatic majority.
Netanyahu said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Sunday that he intended to pass the legislation when the Knesset returns from its recess in the fall, as a final move in his judicial reform.
The sources said Netanyahu was hoping to deter Supreme Court justices who will decide a petition before the court, to throw out another bill that prevents the prime minister's ouster from office for any reason other than medical or mental incapacity.
The prime minister is on trial for corruption and has signed a conflict of interest agreement that prevents him from dealing with matters that could influence the case's outcome, an agreement he is accused of violating.
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עדות מילצ'ן מעיד במשפט נתניהו
עדות מילצ'ן מעיד במשפט נתניהו
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Jerusalem District Court during his trial for corruption
(Photo: Haim Goldberg)
But members of Netanyahu's Likud Party said there may not be a majority of coalition members who will support such legislation after some lawmakers said they would refuse to vote for additional bills in the government's judicial overhaul that did not have a broad consensus after the Knesset passed by a 64 to 0 majority the reasonability bill, that limits the Supreme Court's oversight of the government.
They questioned Netanyahu's motives for announcing he would pass the bill changing the way judges are selected in light of the wide opposition it is sure to raise in an already volatile public protest that has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets for the past 31 weeks and amid concerns that the economy would continue to suffer and that the IDF would be severely impacted if protests continue.
One source in Likud said Netanyahu may be attempting to float the idea in order to ultimately pass another of his proposed laws, which could be considered less provocative but would weaken the position of the attorney general.
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