In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Con­tro­versy Greet Re­turn­ing Knes­set Mem­bers

The Jewish Voice - - ISRAEL - By: An­drew Fried­man

Knes­set mem­bers re­turned to work Mon­day amidst a rau­cous flurry of po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing, con­tro­ver­sial bill pro­pos­als and a se­ries of on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu, his wife Sara and sev­eral for­mer aides on cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

The open­ing of the par­lia­men­tary win­ter ses­sion is marked largely by a list of con­tro­ver­sial mea­sures, in­clud­ing bills to le­gal­ize the Jewish character of the state, to limit the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Supreme Court and es­pe­cially a pro­posal by MK Dudi Am­sallem (Likud) to block crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of sit­ting prime min­is­ters for fraud, bribery or breach of trust.

Am­sallem in­sists the lat­ter bill is not crafted to shield Ne­tanyahu and says the bill, should it be­come law, would not ap­ply to in­ves­ti­ga­tions that have al­ready been launched. But some MKs have voiced con­cerns that the law could be ap­plied retroac­tively.

Knes­set Speaker MK Yoel (Yuli) Edel­stein, Pres­i­dent Reu­ven (Ruby) Rivlin, Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Ne­tanyahu, cur­rent and for­mer govern­ment min­is­ters and be­reaved fam­i­lies opened the Knes­set win­ter ses­sion Mon­day call­ing for bi­par­ti­san­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Edel­stein and Rivlin, both mem­bers of Ne­tanyahu’s Likud Party, warned against over­step­ping the man­date to gov­ern and es­pe­cially against re­duc­ing the au­thor­ity of the Supreme Court and the High Court of Jus­tice.

Rivlin crit­i­cized public at­tacks on the ju­di­ciary and warned that a push by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett and the Jewish Home fac­tion to limit the court‘s ju­ris­dic­tion would weaken the court‘s au­thor­ity de facto and in the eyes of the public.

”How ex­actly would a con­form­ist, tooth­less Supreme Court that finds it­self un­der threat be in the in­ter­est of the State of Is­rael or of Is­raeli democ­racy? Rivlin asked.

Edel­stein added a word of cau­tion that sepa­ra­tion of pow­ers be­tween three in­de­pen­dent branches is not a “nice (thing) to have,” but rather an essen­tial el­e­ment to en­sure se­cu­rity and free­dom for all Is­raelis.

“Mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion, I’d ask you to think twice be­fore run­ning to the High Court of Jus­tice to over­turn laws passed

by the govern­ment. Think about the im­pact that that has on our democ­racy,” Edel­stein said.

Edel­stein also called on coali­tion mem­bers not to try to thwart demo­cratic stan­dards of gov­ern­men­tal over­sight, say­ing that any at­tempt to harm ac­cepted over­sight would be an “vi­o­la­tion of our re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

The ses­sion be­gan with a mod­icum of deco­rum and ci­vil­ity, but quickly de­scended into a shout­ing match be­tween mem­bers of the par­lia­men­tary op­po­si­tion and Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu when the lat­ter took the mi­cro­phone.

Ne­tanyahu opened his re­marks with a pledge to ob­tain the bod­ies of IDF sol­diers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed dur­ing the 2014 Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, as well as the re­turn of Abera Mengistu, Hisham alSayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghan­ima, who are be­lieved to be alive and held by Ha­mas in Gaza. He also said that Is­rael is a ris­ing power, both re­gion­ally and around the world.

“We are be­com­ing a ris­ing global power,” the prime min­is­ter said. “We are be­com­ing an eco­nomic power, our mil­i­tary strength is un­prece­dented.

That’s not to be taken for granted.

The open­ing of the par­lia­men­tary win­ter ses­sion is marked largely by a list of con­tro­ver­sial mea­sures, in­clud­ing bills to le­gal­ize the Jewish character of the state, to limit the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Supreme Court and es­pe­cially a pro­posal by MK Dudi Am­sallem (pic­tured above) of the Likud party to block crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of sit­ting prime min­is­ters for fraud, bribery or breach of trust.

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