Judges will be chosen by Netanyahu’s coalition and checks and balances will be reduced under the new judiciary plan.
There have been many different names used to describe the new plan for Israel’s judicial system. It was compared to “the beginning of the end of the third Temple,” a prophetic phrase used to describe the extinction of Israel, by revered former president of the Supreme Court Aharon Barak. Barak is known for staying away from dramatic statements.
Some of the terms used by its opponents to describe it include “political coup” and “regime change.”. The upheaval’s instigator, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, referred to it simply as “reforms.” Whatever definition you prefer, Levin’s plan, if put into action, will alter Israel’s political system at its very core, not just overhaul the legal system and weaken the Supreme Court.
An “authoritative democracy,” akin to some post-Soviet democracies in eastern Europe, is about to emerge in the nation that once took pride in being “the only democracy in the Middle East”—at least to its Jewish Israeli citizens.
Of course, this is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario, according to Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney general of Israel, is that it will be a “dictatorship of a casual parliamentary majority.”
He tells Middle East Eye that liberties will be restricted and “subordinated” to the government, which he describes as a “government of half the people, run by stakeholders of half the people, for half the people – with no mechanism to offer protection to individuals and minorities.”.
All Israelis’ civil rights, including those of Palestinian citizens, Jews, women, members of the LGBTQ community, and those seeking asylum, are destined to be the main casualties of this constitutional revolution.
It will be especially disastrous under the current administration of ministers and lawmakers, some of whom have themselves engaged in criminal activity, and who openly support racism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is accused of corruption but denies it, is the best example of this. Parallel to this judicial upheaval, which is said to have been orchestrated by his ally Levin alone, his trial is still going on.
Numerous elements of the plan will undermine the system of checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary, effectively consolidating all power with politicians.
One instance is the modification that was suggested for the committee that selects judges. The nine-member committee currently has three seats held by the ruling coalition. The new strategy will give them five, effectively giving the government a commanding lead.
The coalition led by Netanyahu will essentially choose its own judges. That might be the true motivation behind the purported “reforms”. Israeli security is endangered by Netanyahu’s success.
One week after being formally appointed as justice minister, Levin devised the plan. It has become customary for this new administration to work quickly, devoting itself to erasing all evidence of its predecessor in what seems more like a carefully orchestrated vendetta than the implementation of a new policy.
Each minister in the first-ever government to include far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties has a specific goal in mind. In Levin’s situation, the timing of his proposal, which was made public on 4 January, offers critical insight into the most likely causes of the swift reforms.
The announcement was made just before the Supreme Court began hearing petitions challenging the validity of the appointment of Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Shas party, as minister of health and the interior.