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The Left & Right Are Calling Israel’s Proposed Judicial Reforms a “Threat To Democracy”

The opposition to Israel’s proposed judicial reforms have reached across the political aisle, crossing the lines of religious, secular, Jewish, and Christian communities. At The Israel Guys, we discussed this issue in multiple videos, with our firm belief being that a change to Israel’s judicial system can only be for the good of Israeli and Middle Eastern democracy.  

After our first video was published, we received comments from several on the conservative side who were voicing concern about the proposed reforms. After a prominent Christian leader in Israel publicly said that the proposed plan was threatening Israeli democracy, I realized that the record needed to be set straight. 

In short, Israel’s new Justice Minister, Yariv Levin, along with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu released the new government’s plan to reform the judicial system in Israel, with a primary focus being on the court system, most notably the Supreme Court. The premise of the plan is to add a series of checks and balances to Israel’s government, resulting, contrary to what many people believe, in more democracy, not less. 

Interesting to note, is that out of more than ten nations who are all first-world democracies, Israel is the only country where Supreme Court justices are not chosen by elected representatives of the government. These countries include the United States, Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Several decades ago, the balance of power between Israel’s branches of government was tipped much too far to the left. Ultimately, the Supreme Court was set up to rule as more of a dictatorship with ultimate power over new justices and the ability to veto Knesset legislation. While some would call this a needed balance of power, set up so that the courts can hold the rest of the government accountable, the courts in Israel have been extremely left-leaning for decades, and since they have the ability to veto the appointment of new judges, there is no prospect for change, even when Israel’s citizens vote in a right-wing government. 

Since Israel lacks a constitution, the Supreme Court was given the power to overrule legislation passed in the Knesset that they decide violate Israel’s Basic Laws, which in themselves are controversial, and by no means serve in the same capacity as a constitution. 

Unfortunately, the courts have catered to the left in many areas, protecting terrorists, blocking the IDF from properly dealing with terrorism and violence, and ordering the demolition of Jewish homes and communities in Judea and Samaria while ignoring the blatant illegal building in the Arab sector. 

An even greater imbalance of power, the court’s system for selecting new justices, is also flawed. A committee of nine people, three of whom are Supreme Court Justices, several MKs, and the sitting Justice Minister approve the appointments of new judges. Since each new appointment must receive the approval of at least seven of the committee members, this gives the Supreme Court the ability to veto any new justice they deem unfit. This has served to give the court system a sort of monopoly on the court’s view of Israel’s legislation that passes through their parliament. 

The proposed justice reform seeks to put this system of selecting judges in check, by bringing in the coalition government to assist in the process. In effect, this allows the will of the people to have a vote in who is appointed to the courts, restoring a balance of power and adding more checks and balances. 

Also under the proposed reform plan, although the Supreme Court will still have the power to strike down legislation that has been passed in the Knesset, the Knesset will then in turn be able to overrule them with a 61-seat majority vote. While this does not completely eliminate the Supreme Court’s ability to challenge legislation passed in the Knesset, it does keep both bodies accountable to one another, again adding democracy to Israel’s system of checks and balances. 

While protests against the proposed reforms have attracted massive crowds of people, with some estimating last weekend’s protest drawing 80,000, I believe Netanyahu said it best when he said: 

“Two months ago there was a huge demonstration in Israel, the mother of all demonstrations. Millions of people took to the streets to vote in the elections. One of the main issues they voted for is the reform in the judicial system.”

Although thousands may be against reforms, there are millions who voted for change to happen. Ultimately, this will be for the good of Israel, and the good of the Middle East, where Israel rules as the shining example of democracy in the region. 

About the author

Luke Hilton is the Director of Marketing for HaYovel, an organization that brings Christians to Judea and Samaria, the Biblical Heartland of Israel, to serve the land and people in volunteer service. Luke has been speaking about Israel since 2011, and has traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia speaking about Israel. He currently co-hosts The Israel Guys Youtube channel and podcast. Luke is based in Israel with his lovely wife Olivia and their five beautiful children.

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6 Responses
  1. Bill Theriot

    I Israel The One God of Israel is soon going to be showing this world in whom he choose to be his Own, the nation The People of Israel. Stand and get ready to see the wile of The One Almightiest come to be!

  2. Stugee

    In case you haven’t noticed, a “threat to democracy” has become the new mantra of the left in western democratic nations. Like the term “hate speech”, it actually means anything that the left does not approve of.

    When you hear that term, understand that the opposite is true.

  3. Arno Versfeld

    Dear Friends,
    I live in South Africa and often pray for Israel.
    I was very concerned when I learnt that in Israel the supreme court could veto legislation.
    In South Africa no legislation can be enacted without the government first getting the comment of the citizens. If legislation should be passed in spite of opposition from the citizens then the Constitutional Court, which is the highest court in South Africa may be approached by the citizens (or political party) to have the law changed or revoked.
    No court in South Africa can veto any legislation directly.
    The appointment of all judges in South Africa is an open process so that everyone has the opportunity to make comment, object etc.
    I trust that the changes envisaged in Israel will bring about a situation similar to S A.
    In S A it is written into the constitution which needs a two thirds majority in Parliament to change.

  4. Loren Bills

    Great Article Luke! Praying for the new government and the reforms that will bring stability and a stronger conservative judicial court. Our US court system appointing justices by whomever is in power still needs work. Having a constitution is not much use when the left interprets how they see fit. Truth is truth.
    Shabbat Shalom.

  5. EDNA VEGA

    Agree with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about changed in the government especially protecting the terrorists instead of the people of Israel. Judicial Justice System by as to change now. Put Israel people first and the people even the IDF power to protect the country. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel and to anyone who go and pray in the Temple of Mount, that belong to Israel. The Old Testament and New Testament was the Word of Yahweh. God bless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Allies who will try their best for Israel first especially in Judea and Samaria. Thank you for updates what’s going on. Reformation is a must.

  6. Nichola

    Apparently the previous government had been planning some reforms to the judicial system. Nothing was said about that.
    This sort of thing has been happening for decades. The vocal minority pushing for things which the silent majority don’t want but making it sound like everyone is for it. Then they dentate anyone who speaks up for the silent majority.
    People just won’t learn from history and the mistakes of others. They have to make the same mistakes and force others to suffer along with them.

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