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High Court to evaluate law against determining Israeli leaders' fitness

The High Court of Justice began to hear petitions on Thursday morning against the incapacitation law, which changed the conditions for when and how an Israeli leader could be declared unfit for office, a move critics say was an abuse of the Knesset’s constitutional authority motivated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal interests.

Red balloons emblazoned with the word “incapacitate” floated above the High Court building, set up by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) one of the petitioners. Outside, protesters from various organizations railed against the supposed evils of the law.

Dr. Eliad Shraga, head of MQG, opened the arguments against the incapacitation law by expressing exasperation, comparing himself to the Roman senator Cato the Elder who ended every speech with a call to destroy Carthage — his own call to eradicate corruption, he claimed.

Shraga said that the law was part of an agenda that was ruining to country. Shraga listed off ways in which the government was damaging the economy, society, and rule of law, but was cut off short by High Court President Esther Hayut who demanded that he make a legal argument. Hayut’s comment was followed by an audience member heckling Shraga for his criticism of the government.

The incapacitation law should be struck down, said Shraga, as it passed as a personal law to improve Netanyahu’s legal situation regarding his corruption trial conflict of interest agreement. Shraga complained that he had been before the court three years prior warning that a person with three corruption charges could not serve as prime minister. His organization has filed many petitions against alleged  conflict of interest violations and the judicial reform.