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Report: Levin, Smotrich to boycott state ceremony over court’s refusal to invite PM

Court administration rejects justice minister’s request for Netanyahu to come, as prime ministers do not typically attend such events and because his trial judges will be there

Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich will reportedly boycott an unveiling ceremony for a new Jerusalem courthouse next week in protest of the court administration’s refusal to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime ministers do not typically attend such ceremonies but Levin asked the court administration to extend an invitation for Netanyahu, the Walla news site reported Thursday, saying that the justice minister’s request was refused.

Walla said the court administration did not want to violate invitation protocol but also was uncomfortable with Netanyahu being there given that all Jerusalem district and magistrate court judges will be in attendance, including the three who are presiding over his ongoing criminal trial.

Angered by the decision not to include Netanyahu, Levin is planning to boycott the event, according to the report. Smotrich followed suit, even though it was unclear why the finance minister received an invite as well.

The reported saga is the latest in a series of run-ins that Levin and other ministers have had with the judicial branch since the hardline Netanyahu government was established in late December. Days after being sworn in, Levin unveiled his plan to radically overhaul the judiciary, receiving massive pushback from the public as well as Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, who will be the Sunday ceremony.

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Levin and Smotrich’s offices did not respond to requests for comment, neither did the court administration.

The building unveiling will take place two days before the High Court of Justice will hold its first hearing to discuss petitions against the first piece of overhaul legislation passed by the coalition in July.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana warned in an address earlier this week that the government might not abide by the court’s ruling if the latter chooses to strike down the legislation, and Netanyahu shared the speech on social media.