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Sabra Express | Jury's Out

Isabel Debre and Josef Federman, AP, January 4th 2023


Recap:

Justice minister Yariv Levin proposed an overhaul to the judicial system following campaign promises to increase the power of elected officials.


The Context:

· The proposal includes restricting the High Court’s capacity to strike down government decisions, requiring just a simple Knesset majority to override Supreme Court rulings and changing the process for choosing judges [1]. Supreme Court judges are currently appointed and dismissed by a committee made up of professionals, justices and select lawmakers.

· Proponents of the overhaul say the move will “strengthen democracy, rehabilitate governance, restore faith in the judicial system, and rebalance the three branches of government.”

· Critics say the plan will upend Israel’s system of checks and balances and undermine its democratic institutions by giving absolute power to lawmakers. “What Yariv Levin presented today is not a legal reform, it is a threat. They threaten to destroy the entire constitutional structure of the State of Israel,” said Opposition Leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid [2].

· Levin presented the proposal less than 24 hours before the High Court was set to hear the case against Shas MK Aryeh Deri’s ministerial appointment [3]. Deri was chosen to serve half a term as the minister of health and interior affairs, before becoming finance minister. He will also hold the post of deputy prime minister. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara wrote a 77-page dissenting argument declaring Deri's selection "extremely unreasonable [4] since it comes less than a year after he was convicted and given a suspended jail sentence [5].


Conversation Points:

· Why did Levin release his proposed changes so close to Deri’s confirmation hearings?

· What is the proper balance between court and state?

· Should lawmakers have the ability to override Supreme Court decisions?


Notes:

4. Supreme Court deliberates convicted Deri appointment as minister, Gilad Morag, Ynetnews, January 5th, 2023


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