The Grunis bill has passed its second and third readings in the Knesset on Monday, paving the way for Supreme Court Judge Asher Grunis to become the next chief justice. Fifty-seven Knesset ministers voted in favor of the legislation, while 37 MKs voted against it.
The legislation shortens the term that a chief justice must serve by asserting that the most senior Supreme Court judge can be appointed as the court's president even if he is approaching 70, the designated age of retirement. Provided that the Judicial Selection Committee chooses Grunis, as is expected, he will replace incumbent president, Dorit Beinish, when she retires next month.
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Grunis, who will turn 70 early in 2015, will have to retire a few months shy of completing a three-year term. He is considered a judge who does not tend to practice judicial activism.
"It's not often that I take the stage to express my opinion and reservations," she told the Knesset plenum. "(…) This law has no respect, not for the Knesset, not for democracy and not for the State of Israel.
"Our opposition to the law is not directed at (Grunis), who is surely a good, beloved and worthy person," she added. "But a personal law should not be passed by this establishment, and should not be supported by anyone."
'Israel turning into totalitarian regime'
Livni accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of allowing Israel to turn into a totalitarian regime.
"He is missing the backbone that should tell him when a legislation is meant to weaken the Supreme Court or silence anyone who doesn't think like him," she said. "This law is part of a Coalition plot to turn Israel into a non-democratic state, to dwarf the Supreme Court, to take over the media and silence everyone, including us, the Opposition."
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) continued in the same vein.
"The Grunis bill is the least significant issue," he said. "There is a series of clear intentions to take over the court system and the media, and to create a strong government without stops."
Earlier, the Knesset agreed to bring a bill that aims to alter the make up of the Judicial Selection Committee up for second and third readings. The bill proposes to allow the Israeli Bar Association to appoint just one representative to the committee, instead of two, thus redistributing the balance of power within the commission and empowering Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman.
The measure drew strong opposition from the Likud ministers, prompting Netanyahu to announce he would rethink the legislation.
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