Webinar – Judicial reform: A means of saving, not endangering, Israeli democracy

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Thirty years ago, Israel’s Supreme Court, known as the High Court of Justice (HCJ), launched a judicial revolution in the Jewish State that vastly empowered itself at the expense of the executive and legislative branches — and representative, accountable government, more generally. The leftist-dominated HCJ granted itself the authority to intervene in, and dictate the outcome of, policy decisions, without regard to the rule of law pursuant to the Israeli constitution, statutes or such considerations as the standing of parties, the justiciability of matters on which it acts and the inappropriateness of arbitrarily selected and subjective “guiding principles” and “reasonableness” as the basis for its rulings.

The Court also reduced the executive and legislative branch’s legal advisors into servants of the HCJ instead of accountable appointees of the government. In addition, the HCJ solidified its control over the process for selecting judges throughout Israel not only on its own level, but at all levels, with the effect of erasing any genuine representation by Israel’s elected bodies.

The cumulative effect of all these revolutionary changes in the separation and balance of power in the Israeli government has been to introduce what can only be described as judicial tyranny, manifested by unchecked rule by judges and the voiding of the democratic essence of Israel by reducing its elected officials to members of advisory bodies.

As the population of Israel has become increasingly conservative politically, the Supreme Court has drifted to the far left. The HCJ’s campaign to vastly enhance its power in the service of an increasingly radical leftist agenda has tarnished its reputation, diminished its credibility and alienated it from a majority of the Israeli people. That majority elected the new Netanyahu government which sought and received a mandate aimed at achieving judicial and legal reforms.

To that end, the new governing coalition has set out to reset relations between the branches of government in Jerusalem and to restore the nation’s founding checks and balances. In the process, it is not only reviving and renewing Israeli democracy. It is aligning the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s office once more with the best in modern judicial practice, notably in nations like the United States and Great Britain.

Such reform is bitterly opposed by the left, which has taken to the streets in demonstrations and evoked inflammatory and even violent rhetoric against the Netanyahu government and its judicial overhaul. Worse yet, the United States has directly intervened and thrown its weight against such reforms. Team Biden appears to be doing so with a view to not only undermining the Israeli coalition right out of the gate. It also seems intent on packing the U.S. Supreme Court and in other ways mutating our own accountable and representative constitutional system.

Center for Security Policy

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