The debate marks the first time in Israel’s history that a full panel of Supreme Court judges are deliberating a case – that is another historic first – invalidating one of Israel’s Basic Laws.
The vast majority of legal scholars believe that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to invalidate a Basic Law and doing so risks sending Israel into a constitutional crisis.
The chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution Committee, MK Simcha Rothman, told the court that it has no right to interfere with a Basic Law: “The Knesset has the right to establish Basic Laws, in line with the will of the people,” he said. “What justification can there be for taking from the State of Israel its most basic characteristic as a democratic state – free elections, the ability of the public to express its opinion, the ability of the public to change the laws by which personal and national life is carried out, the ability of the public to determine the arrangements according to which the government of the people, by the people, for the people, operates?”
“If the elected Knesset does not fulfill its role properly, no cure will be found in the control of an oligarchic regime by a group of people, no matter how wise and prudent and honest they may be – that they are authorized to overrule decisions of the public’s representatives in matters of legislation, without having to periodically face the judgment of the public in elections.”
“Over the course of many years, in a gradual process of clever legal maneuvers, Israel’s Supreme Court assumed powers that are unparalleled in any democracy in the world. When this process began, Chief Justice Moshe Landau warned against these steps.”
“Don’t be tempted to become senior partners in the work of legislation. Don’t be tempted to receive applause from one part of the public while the other rejects your ruling as one-sided and biased, and the exit from the constitutional crisis that has been building up for years will only be pushed further out of reach.”
“Today, Justice Landau’s prophecy has come to fruition. Public trust in the court is waning as a result of the court’s extensive involvement in social, economic and political matters.”
“This past Shabbat we read the words of the Navi, ‘For the sake of Tzion I will not be silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest until justice shines forth and its salvation burns like a flaming torch,'” Rothman concluded.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)