Our legal commentator, former vice president of the District Court, warns: This is how they intend to weaken Israeli democracy

by Avraham Yaakov

עיתון בין אויבים

A newspaper among enemies

Avraham Yaakov details all the changes to the law and legislation that the Ben Gvir coalition intends to make, and the dangers that will arise from them for the judiciary, the prosecutor's office, and the legal adviser to the government. There is nothing new in these things, but they have been compiled here into a concise and sharp picture for our readers and for us. Does the new coalition believe that it has the power to destroy the foundations of the democratic regime? The tipp newspaper was born exactly for this. To show the the extreme right that each of us has a power limit. To this end, the newspaper will use every legal means available to it as a public critical body.

The new coalition wants to bring about the following changes in the justice system:

  1. "Overcoming clause" legislation.
  2. "French law" legislation.
  3. Deletion of the offense of fraud and breach of trust from the law book.
  4. Changing the composition of the committee for the appointment of judges.
  5. Dismissal of the legal advisor to the government.
  6. Splitting the role of the legal advisor to the government.
  7. Turning the positions of legal advisors in government ministries into "positions of trust".
  8. Major changes in the prosecutor's office.

Below is a concise explanation of each of its intentions:

The "overcoming clause": The purpose of the legislation is to allow the Knesset to overcome the ruling of the High Court of Justice, and to re-enact laws that the Supreme Court, in its session as a high court of justice, will annul due to their being unconstitutional.

We will say that the Knesset is allowed to do this even today, but the new coalition wants to allow the Knesset to do this with a normal majority of the members of the Knesset present at the time in the plenum, and not with a privileged majority. If such a law is passed, it will be possible to cancel a ruling of the Supreme Court, regarding an unconstitutional law, even when a small number of Knesset members are present in the plenum.

The "French law": is named after a French law which the coalition wants to copy into the Israeli law book, according to which police investigation and criminal prosecution of the French president during his term of office is prohibited.

Normally, criminal legislation operates from here on out and is not retroactive, but the concern is that the coalition intends to apply the law retroactively so that it will also allow the postponement of Netanyahu's trial until the end of his term.

Deletion of the offense of fraud and breach of trust from the law book: Deletion of an offense works retroactively, therefore immediately upon deletion, the central part of the indictment against Netanyahu will be deleted immediately

Changing the composition of the committee for the appointment of judges: The committee currently has 9 members: two ministers (one of whom, the Minister of Justice, serves as the chairman of the committee), two MKs, two representatives of the Bar Association and three judges of the Supreme Court.

The committee's decisions are taken by a simple majority vote, except for the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court, which requires a majority of seven committee members.

The coalition intends to change the composition of the committee so that any of its decisions will be subject to the veto of the politicians who are members of the committee.

Such legislation will lead to the politicization of the judiciary and turning the judges into politicians' mouthpieces. The damage to the separation of powers will be severe in case the law is passed. Such a "reform" will end the lack of independence of the judges in Israel and will turn them into non-independent judges.

The dismissal of the legal adviser to the government: The fear is that the dismissal of the adviser is necessary for the coalition so that the new adviser, whoever is appointed, will be the mouthpiece of members of the political coalition, and can, for example, erase the indictment against Netanyahu.

This decision of the advisor is of course subject to review by the High Court, but as recalled from one of the intentions above, the High Court's ruling will be overturned by a simple majority with the legislation of the "overcoming clause".

Splitting the role of legal advisor to the government and turning the positions of legal advisors to the government ministries into positions of trust express an intention to push out the gatekeepers to prevent real criticism of the government's actions. Because if we are talking about "positions of trust" then we can appoint "our own people", and the critical structure in the government offices will disappear.

Radical changes in the prosecutor's office may and are necessary, but not in this context of tattooing the justice system and subjecting it to the new wind blowing in Israeli politics, which intends to prevail over legal freedom. Therefore, no changes now, and not like this.

 Do the "reformers" intend to turn the lawyers into submissive officials, mouthpieces of the government? It must not happen to us.

In conclusion, my conclusion is that if this legislation does come into effect, it will remove from the coalition extremely important legal restrictions on the proper and obligatory course of the Israeli democratic regime, in a way that will allow it to abuse the citizens, all or some of them, without the citizen having the remedy available to him/her today: applying to the court for relief Suitable against the state. With the legislation, the balance of power between the government and the legal system will be irreparably violated.