Israel Supreme Court hears arguments on amendment to PM incapacitation provision


The amendment was passed by the Israeli government in March, ahead of the corruption trials against Prime Minister Netanyahu. The amendment was passed by the government in March ahead of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trial for corruption. The Supreme Court heard the petitions of numerous individuals and groups, including Israel Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and Movement for Quality Government, one of Israel’s most prominent public interest groups. 11 of the 15 justices sat in Thursday’s hearings.

Attorney for the government, Yitzhak Bart, claimed that the that the amendment was not meant to change the law, rather clarify the definition on incapacitated, and solidify who bore responsibility for making such a decision. According to the government, the Basic Law before the amendment was too vague in terms of who could decide whether a prime minister is incapacitated. The government also claims that the Supreme Court does not have authority to conduct judicial review on issues pertaining to Basic Laws, which serve as Israel’s pseudo-constitution.

The hearing focused primarily on the validity of the amendment. The justices questioned if the amendment was “personal” legislation, passed by Netanyahu in order to carry out his plans for judicial reform. Bart acknowledged that the passage of the law may have been motivated in part by personal or political interest, but argued a democratically-elected government is bound to write and pass personal and political laws. Bart also said that even if the law was personally or politically motivated by Netanyahu, the amendment passed not to benefit Netanyahu as Prime Minister but rather the elected government and prime minister’s position. Many justices responded by questioning the logic of such a bill. They argued the ability to pass laws in such a way lends itself to government corruption.

The “incapacitation” amendment passed through the government in March. It effectively narrowed the definition of incapacitation to rest solely upon the prime minister’s, or a supermajority of the cabinet’s, determination.

On Thursday , former Prime Minister Ehud Barak

on X (formerly Twitter), condemning the law as a personal law meant to benefit the prime minister. He also praised the protesters who have marched against these reforms since January.