Amid the largest and most well-funded protest movement in Israel’s history, the democratically elected governing coalition passed the first reform in a historic process aimed at bringing Israel’s activist Supreme Court in line with the judicial limitations present in most Western democracies.
With 64 votes in favor, Basic Law: The Judiciary will limit the court’s usage of an undefined “reasonableness standard” that has long served as an unrestrained lever to overturn Knesset legislation and executive policy.
Reasonableness has often been utilized by the court to reverse laws and policies that while not in direct contradiction to laws already on the books stood in contradiction to the limited worldview of a court that is dominated by secular, left-wing justices—a minority in Israeli society.
For those who claim that Israel will no longer be governed by the rule of law, nothing could be further from the truth. Should the newly minted law go into effect, the court will still maintain its authority to rule on petitions and even overturn legislation based on established legal principles. The court will lose its authority to overturn legislation on the discretionary basis of what it deems to be acceptable or proper.
For decades, Israel’s Supreme Court under the leadership of former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak has amassed increasing authority in landmark, self-defined rulings, shifting the delicate balance of power between the three branches of government in its own favor.
Such claims are made nearly 30 years after a left-wing government railroaded through the Oslo Accords aimed at reducing Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and granting a P.A. led by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat a state in the Jewish people’s biblical heartland. Such claims are also made nearly 18 years to the day after the Israel Defense Forces were forced to evacuate 8,500 tax-paying citizens from 21 established Jewish communities in Gush Katif and fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
Yet the truth is that both the composition and the idea of Israel aren’t one reality or the other. They exist as a complex balance of worldviews that must find a way to continue to co-exist. And while fragile, the balance has lasted until now with dynamic results. Yet increasingly, too many of Israel’s leaders see the nation through limited lenses. For the judicial reform crisis to dissolve, at least one side, if not both, will be forced to compromise.
For the moment, a bitter crisis ensues with the historic passage of an overdue reform.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
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