Monday, September 22, 2008

Two quick observations on current events.

First, I think the arguments about whether Mofaz was screwed by foile shtick in the Kadima primaries are irrelevant. Peres would have asked Livni to try to form a government, even if Mofaz had narrowly won the primary.

Second, for those who missed it, the judicial appointments committee met today and it was an epic fiasco. The three Justices on the committee argued (based on unfounded arguments raised in a 2005 Supreme Court decision permitting a caretaker government to make appointments) that a caretaker government cannot make appointments to the Court. Mazuz was called in to offer a legal opinion, but apparently the Justices had neglected to prep him and he couldn't find any problem with the appointments. So Beinish and Co. just talk their ball and went home.

The subtext here is that Beinish is assuming that, one way or another, her nemesis Friedmann's days as Justice Minister are numbered and she'd prefer to make appointments once a more congenial Justice Minister is in office. Second, the Knesset recently passed a law requiring seven out of the nine members to ratify a candidate for the Supreme Court (five used to be enough). This was the brainchild of Likud MK Gideon Saar, who wanted to strengthen the hand of the three coalition politicians on the committee (there are four politicians on the committee but one of them is, by tradition, an opposition MK) by giving them veto power. The message sent by the Justices today was that there are three of them, too, and now they have veto power even without the help of their two lackeys on the committee. (They could have just politely not reached an agreement on any candidates, but they childishly needed to thumb their noses.)

This is good news. First of all, part of Saar's agenda in pushing this legislation was to prevent serious reform of the appointments procedure. In fact, once a right-wing government is in place, Saar (and, to some extent, Bibi) will be the only ones blocking real reform. Hopefully, today's fiasco will make Saar feel foolish enough to acquiesce to the necessary changes.

Second, the Justices have effectively announced that this caretaker government has no authority to govern. Interesting times ahead.

Addendum: This is too good to be true. Friedmann pointed out tonight that Beinish herself was appointed to the Court by a caretaker government.


Blogger Saul Lieberman said...

Peres could have asked Livni to try to form a government, even if Mofaz had won the primary?

9:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Yes. Peres has discretionary power to determine which candidate has the best chance to form a government. The primary results are indicative but not constitutive.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous yonatan gore said...

But would he have? That would have looked anti-democratic even by Israeli standards.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

It's hard to prove what would have been, but Livni's support among Kadima MKs is stronger than Mofaz's, so -- all other things being equal -- Peres could have made a case for her. Given Peres's obvious preference for Livni (and the fact that he is above the law), I'm pretty sure he'd have done it.

10:17 PM  

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