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Navigating Israel's Judicial Reforms and Controversy



  Aug 02, 2023

Israel's Judicial Reforms and Controversy


Changes to Israel's legal system are aimed at limiting the powers of the Supreme Court and reshaping the process of selecting judges. Main provisions of the legislative reforms are as follows:

☛ Limiting Supreme Court's Powers: It limits the Supreme Court's ability to rule against decisions made by the legislature and the executive.The Knesset (Israeli parliament) would have the authority to override Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority. This move is aimed at reducing judicial oversight and increasing the influence of the elected branches of government.

☛ Restricting Review of Basic Laws: The reforms take away the Supreme Court's authority to review the legality of Israel's Basic Laws, which function as the country's constitution. Currently, the Supreme Court can review Basic Laws for constitutionality and ensure they align with democratic and human rights principles. Removing this review power may raise concerns about restrictions on civil liberties and democratic principles.

☛ Changing the Selection Process for Judges: The process of selecting Supreme Court justices would be altered under the reforms. Currently, an independent panel, consisting of politicians and judges, is responsible for selecting judges. However, the reforms would give the government more influence in appointing judges, potentially politicizing the judicial appointments and compromising the independence of the judiciary.

☛ Reasonableness Doctrine: It abolishes the "reasonableness doctrine," which was used by the Supreme Court of Israel to evaluate government policies. This doctrine allowed the court to determine whether a government policy was sensible and sound. Critics argue that it may weaken the checks and balances and weaken the judicial system and raise concerns about potential authoritarianism and lack of accountability.

☛ Separation of Powers:The separation of powers, a fundamental aspect of democracy, involves maintaining a balance of power among the three branches of government – the executive, legislative, and judicial. Critics fear that the reforms may tilt the balance in favor of the government and the Knesset, potentially leading to an erosion of checks and balances and compromising the independence of the judiciary.
 
Proponents of the reforms argue that the judiciary has become unaccountable and has usurped power from the Knesset and the government in setting policy.


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