Israel Justice Minister Levin presents controversial court reforms including 'derogation clause'
After November elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power last week, heading what analysts call the most right-wing government in the country's history, which includes extremist figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir who has been appointed as national security minister.
Its policy guidelines said the extremist coalition would "advance and develop settlement" in areas including the illegally occupied West Bank.
But, according to The Times of Israel, the guidelines also said: "The government will take steps to guarantee governance and to restore the proper balance between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary."
Justice Minister Yariv Levin on Wednesday presented to the media his proposed reforms that, if parliament adopts them, would boost the power of elected officials over the courts.
"There are judges, but there is also a parliament and a government," Levin said.
"Democracy is in danger when we vote in the ballot box but each time unelected people decide for us," he said, adding that he had thought about this reform for two decades.
Levin, 53, a lawyer and a Likud member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, since 2009, claims that some Supreme Court judges are beholden to the extreme left.
It comes despite the court in May upholding the expulsion of some 1,000 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, an area in the West Bank, after a two-decade legal battle.
The key reform proposed, the "derogation clause", would allow parliament to annul a decision of the Supreme Court with a simple majority vote.
In Israel, which does not have a constitution, the Supreme Court currently has the authority to repeal laws it considers discriminatory.
But some within the new government consider the judiciary has accumulated too much authority and seek to implement a "derogation clause", allowing politicians to reinstate laws overturned by the courts.
"A law passed by parliament can no longer be struck down by a judge," Levin said.
"It is up to the elected government to decide the laws".
Analysts say such a clause would also allow lawmakers to uphold any annulment of the corruption charges against Netanyahu, should parliament vote to absolve the prime minister and the Supreme Court then rule against it.
The reform would also see changes to the system of appointing judges, currently appointed by a panel of magistrates, lawyers and members of the Knesset, under the supervision of the justice ministry.
Levin however wants "to put an end to the election of the judges by their colleagues", proposing to hand more power to the members of parliament in making the choice.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid denounced the reforms, saying on Twitter that it "endangers the entire legal system of the State of Israel".