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Israeli Leaders Must Act Responsibly To Resolve Judicial Crisis – Herzog

Sep 14, 2023

Judicial Crisis

While speaking about the current crisis in Israel, President Isaac Herzog urged political leaders to exhibit courage and ensure that the judicial overhaul doesn’t lead to a turbulent situation for the country. Speaking at an event commemorating the IDF’s 14th Armored Brigade’s role in the Yom Kippur War, Herzog emphasized the need to address the deep-seated divisions within the nation.

The Judicial Reform

His speech follows the unprecedented gathering of all 15 High Court of Justice justices, who convened to deliberate on the legal reasons behind the judicial reform, a historic event in Israel’s legal system. Herzog described the current proposal as a compromise aimed at upholding Israel’s democratic stability, rooted in the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

He lauded the broad support for this proposal, saying it has no political affiliations and has the necessary input from experts in law, research, governance, and civil society. However, Herzog refrained from providing specific details regarding the proposal following an alleged leak that had circulated earlier.

Reports suggest that the compromise includes no alterations to the Judicial Selection Committee and a temporary halt on all other reform initiatives for a year and a half. Herzog called for resolute decision-making from the nation’s leaders, stating they must prioritize the state’s interests above partisan politics.

Meanwhile, the High Court will reconvene a week after the hearing. It will focus on the petitions against Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s stance on the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee.

Herzog commended the hearing for its significance, highlighting how it showcased the potential for constructive dialogue. While acknowledging the necessity for adjustments to suit evolving times, Herzog stated that there must be compliance with the law and reverence for court rulings are non-negotiable principles.

In his concluding remarks, He called for a united commitment to the nation’s democratic foundation, underpinned by a shared sense of responsibility and accountability among Israel’s leaders.

Israel’s Independence Declaration And Judicial Review Controversy

The recent High Court of Justice hearing on the reasonableness standard law reform has ignited a debate over whether the court can review basic laws. The Judiciary prompted extensive deliberation on the court’s capacity to nullify quasi-constitutional provisions.

While figures like Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana contested this stance in the lead-up to the elections, the court has previously asserted its prerogative to do so. In a 2021 ruling on the Nation-State Law, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut emphasized that the Judiciary’s responsibility is to safeguard the state’s democratic and Jewish principles by preventing violations of Basic Laws.

Ilan Bombach, representing the government, challenged the court’s authority to strike down Basic Laws, arguing that the declaration’s signatories lacked the mandate for judicial review. However, Vice President Uzi Vogelman accused Bombach and the government of attempting to diminish the constitutional significance of the declaration while simultaneously relying on it to assert the immutability of Basic Laws.

The 1948 declaration initially called for a constituent assembly election and the formulation of a constitution, which led to the adoption of the Transition Law. Despite the dispute, the Declaration of Independence has gained renewed symbolic prominence, particularly among opposition and anti-reform factions.

Its promise of fundamental rights, equality, and freedom is one of the primary reasons for its popularity.