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Nimrod Dweck
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Judicial overhaul is still a danger – we must fix the cracks

Alongside a nationwide process of soul-searching, the protest movement must channel work toward passage of 2 critical laws
Coalition lawmakers crowd around Justice Minister Yariv Levin to take a celebratory selfie in the Knesset plenum, as they pass the first of the coalition's judicial overhaul laws, the so-called "reasonableness law", on July 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Coalition lawmakers crowd around Justice Minister Yariv Levin to take a celebratory selfie in the Knesset plenum, as they pass the first of the coalition's judicial overhaul laws, the so-called "reasonableness law", on July 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Vows by coalition members that Monday’s High Court decision preserving the reasonableness clause will not weaken their resolve to overhaul the judiciary must not go unanswered. The overhaul attempt was enabled by a two-fold weakness in Israel’s governmental structure. On one hand, the Basic Laws are not sufficiently protected; their status is not guaranteed, and they can be easily amended. On the other hand, citizens’ rights are not fully secured by legislation and are derived from court rulings and interpretations, or from specific laws. This vulnerability invites exploitation. Such a situation allowed an overt overhaul attempt, raising fears that the same coalition members, failing to grasp the gravity of current affairs, will again try to alter the governing order.

The protest movement must switch gears and focus on challenging the very legitimacy of the government that presided over the debacle of October 2023. The presence at the table of certain government ministers is a moral travesty. Significant members of the elected leadership have failed to create public consensus and have led an unprecedented line of incitement and division as a means to political goals. Ministers who have gone to war against the very government agencies they are supposed to lead have created an unprecedented crisis within the executive authority and politicized the public service. The government’s actions have eroded trust between the legislative, executive, and judicial authorities.

All this, alongside the blatant and disgraceful lack of preparedness for the October war Hamas foisted on us. Instead of matters of state, they focused on dismantling democracy. Those responsible for national security, justice, economy, finance, defense, health, education, and the prime minister’s office – all must be held accountable. Each of them, to varying degrees, bears responsibility.

Alongside the protest, a legislative battle must be fought to reach consensus on the necessary changes in the structure of governance as well as to ensure that coup attempts can never happen again. These changes should start with what everyone agrees on, from the prime minister down to the most junior ministers, as well as the opposition: A basic law anchoring individual rights, and concurrently, securing the status of Israel’s Basic Laws through the Basic Law: Legislation.

These two laws will ensure protection and guarantee equal rights to every citizen from any group, community, or status, regardless of their religious or social affiliation, as befits a true democracy. The Basic Law: Legislation will ensure that changes in the Basic Laws are not made on the basis of political whims but will require the agreement of two-thirds of the Knesset, both the current and the next to be elected.

These two additions will close the breech. The coalition, whether right or left, will no longer be able to change the rules of the game for its political benefit. Legislation will not be able to harm or limit a citizen’s rights. The voice of the people that resounded here in the streets demands this, and Israel’s elected officials must understand that this is what the public wants.

The day after the war in Gaza must also be the day after the judicial overhaul attempt. We owe ourselves hope. The Israeli public wants to see leadership that learns lessons, changes what is necessary, learns from the social, political, and security failures of 2023, and grows. We fought in the streets of Israel and Gaza to preserve our national identity and moral right to live as free people, secure in our land. True victory means changing what needs to be changed. It starts with personal and national soul-searching and a legislative process to correct the flaws in the system. These should be achieved through consensus, public discussion, and ongoing pressure. We are angry, and rightly so. This anger needs to be channeled into healing.

About the Author
Nimrod Dweck is CEO and co-founder of the Darkenu movement.