21stCenturyJudaism.com

The website of Rabbi Moshe Pitchon

On January 11, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and the head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Simcha Rothman, published draft texts of three laws. 

 

According to many in Israel’s legal and economic community, if implemented, these laws will amount to a legal revolution.

 

 

According to these sectors, and the tens of thousands of Israelis that have been assembling every Saturday night in Israeli cities to protest, the “shaky and partial democracy” that is Israel it’s on the edge of falling into authoritarian rule.

 

 

The Justice Minister has made it clear that as part of his intention to limit the Supreme Court’s powers, he will introduce legislation to prevent the High Court from blocking government decisions that the Court found unreasonable (such as making three times indicted and previously incarcerated Aryeh Deri Minister in an Israeli government).

 

 

            Dr. Amir Fuchs. a Senior Researcher at the Center for Democratic Values and Institutions at the Israel Democracy Institute explains that

the standard of reasonableness refers to balancing political and public interests in decision-making. An ‘unreasonable’ decision is, therefore, one which “disproportionately focuses on political interests without sufficient consideration for public trust and its protection.”

            On the other hand, David M. Weinberg, VP of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and senior advisor of The Tikvah Fund in Israel, arguing with Minister Levin, contends that

 

However, the standard of reasonableness as grounds for vacating a government decision has a long history in British law. Moreover, it has been part of the Israeli legal system since the establishment of the state.

 

In the United States, the Constitution limits law enforcement to “reasonable search and seizure” in investigating a crime and grants American courts the power to decide whether a search is reasonable.

 

Dr.  Fuchs s acknowledges that the standard of reasonableness has been applied in an “arbitrary way” in the past and “gives a lot of discretion and power to the beliefs of the court,” however, he believes that doing away with such a necessary standard is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

 

            Israeli journalist Haviv Retiv Gur, writing for the “Times of Israel”:

 

“If reasonableness is canceled, what recourse would Israeli protesters have if a police commander, or a politician in charge of the police, refuses to issue a permit for their protest? Or when the state invokes eminent domain to seize private property to make way for infrastructure projects? Or any of a thousand ways that the executive curtails individual rights every day. Centuries of custom and law have tasked a nation’s judges with enforcing individual rights by weighing such government actions in the balance — ensuring, in other words, that a government’s sometimes unavoidable abridgments of individual rights remain in the realm of the “reasonable” and do not become tyrannical.”