Mohammad Wattad

The Reform is wholly a National Security Threat

The “legal reform” is an unsuccessful and dangerous disguise for a parliamentary coup. Its purpose is to concentrate all the governing power in the hands of the government. It limits the judiciary’s powers and the gatekeepers monitoring the government. This legal Reform is a threat to the national security of the State of Israel. The constitutional right to protest against the coup is becoming mandatory these days. In particular, the right to protest is a duty among the Arab minority in Israel.

The concentration of large-scale and unrestricted governmental power in the hands of a single central governmental authority is nothing more than a regime coup, earning the right to be part of a democratic regime.

In a parliamentary democracy, the executive branch is meant to have the most significant power of wide-ranging and extensive regimes. In the parliamentary democracy of Israel, the legislative branch, as an authority supervising the government, is entirely controlled by the executive branch. The coalition consists of Knesset members; The Knesset committees are controlled by chairmen belonging to the coalition; And the enactment of laws, the lifeblood of parliamentary activity, is controlled by the mandate of the coalition discipline by the ministerial committee for legislative matters.

These are just some of the shortcomings of parliamentary democracy in Israel’s case. These elements are especially true in the absence of a written constitution and even more so when the formation of the basic laws has not yet been completed, which is far from perfect. As a result, the legal status of the fundamental laws is in the dark. This is especially the case when two of the pillars of the structure of the basic laws are not entrenched at all (Basic Law: The Judiciary and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty), which allows the political authorities to trample them with a rough foot, in any occasional parliamentary majority.

In such a regime, the judiciary and the gatekeepers have a critical role in supervising the political authorities, particularly the government. Their part is to maintain the principle of the essential rule of Law. A law is not fair just because the Knesset which enacted it was elected in formally legal elections, especially if it expresses a political absurdity, involves the misuse of authority, and oppresses disadvantaged minority groups. Their role is also to maintain the fundamental principle of separation of powers. They guarantee that one authority (the government) does not trample, let alone trample, the other authority (the Knesset).

For the judiciary to fulfill its duties faithfully, it must be independent; It must not be dependent on the political authorities, especially not the executive authority. Therefore, it should not be chosen according to political criteria; And when it comes to fulfilling its duties, it should not consider political considerations. In any case, it should not represent the political authorities when making decisions.

The main point of the “legal reform,” as presented by the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, is the castration of the judiciary and the gatekeepers from their power to supervise the political authorities, especially the government that controls the Knesset. If this is the case, then neither the threshold nor the gatekeepers will be left, and if this is the face of things, then it cannot be called a “legal reform” but a regime coup.

A “legal reform” that deprives the court of the authority to annul laws and, unfortunately, sets impossible conditions for the possibility of using this authority constitutes a real threat to the independence of the judiciary. A reform that deprives the court of the power to review basic laws constitutes a real threat to the independence of the judiciary, seeing as the only thing that distinguishes them is their title as basic laws. A reform that allows the Knesset, and the government, through the Knesset, to override the court’s ruling and also through a simple parliamentary majority (61) is a real threat to the independence of the judiciary. A reform that denies the court the authority to overturn extremely unreasonable government decisions (as opposed to unreasonable decisions) is a real threat to the independence of the judiciary. Finally, a reform that requires turning the institution of the Attorney General into an advisory position, and the legal advice to the government offices into an institution of court officials, is a real threat to the independence of legal advice.;

Such a reform is a real and serious threat to the national security of the State of Israel. However, just as we do not compromise on the national security of the State of Israel, we do not compromise on the independence of the judiciary and the gatekeepers. In the absence of this independence, these have no right to exist.

Therefore, the efforts of the president of the country, which should be congratulated, should focus not on achieving an affair but on forming a broad consensus regarding the principle concerning the mutual relations between the government authorities. Unfortunately, this principle has been mocked in the Basic Law: the legislation. While the court agreed in the past, on several occasions, to the establishment of this basic law, it was precisely the political authorities who opposed it, particularly with the understanding that it has the power to limit their power, and on the other hand to anchor in basic legislation the supra-legal constitutional status of the basic laws and the authority of the courts; the right to annul laws.

The strength of the institution of the presidency is not in the lack of its operative powers but in its symbolic and state status. Therefore, it is appropriate to give the institution of the presidency the right to lead in forming such a broad consensus.

Every citizen in the State of Israel must exercise his constitutional right to freedom of expression, including to assemble and demonstrate, against the parliamentary coup according to the “legal reform.” This is necessary, but not only the duty of everyone who belongs to minority groups, including the Arab minority.

There are moments in the history of democratic nations where a right becomes a duty. But unfortunately, we live in this very moment. If the Arab minority does not come to its senses quickly, if it remains indifferent, and if it does not point a finger and does not take part in the protest against the coup d’état, it will be a sorrow for generations.

About the Author
Senior Researcher, the Institute for Israeli Thought, Dean of the School of Law, Zefat Academic College.
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