On 12 February 2023, in a special speech, President Yitzhak Herzog presented a compromise proposal upon which negotiations on the government’s plan for a regime revolution would be based. Zulat congratulates the Honorable President for enlisting in the effort to block the government’s moves to fundamentally change the regime in the State of Israel and the sensitive balances between the three branches of power.
On 7 March 2023, a detailed version of the blueprint “leaked” to the media and was promptly denied by Beit Hanassi (“What was published this morning was not approved by the President, nor by anybody on his behalf. It should be emphasized that this is not the President’s blueprint, but one of many proposals forwarded in recent weeks by researchers and academics from different institutes across the country. The President has yet to finalize a blueprint, which will then be presented to Israel’s citizens.”). At the same time, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Knesset Constitution Committee Chairman Simcha Rotman said the blueprint was unacceptable to them since it would “emasculate the reform,” and MK Rotman asserted that he would continue to advance the government’s bills in his committee in the following days.
Despite the President’s good intentions and Beit Hanassi’s denial, the reported blueprint fails to address the real threat to the survival of Israel’s democratic institutions and could very well become a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Following are Zulat’s initial comments regarding some of its components:
- The blueprint’s basic premise is wrong, given that it attempts to deal “surgically” with some of the controversial proposals while ignoring the fact that they form a legislative package conducive to regime change.
- Shielding Basic Laws from judicial review except if a procedural flaw occurred in their legislation is the blueprint’s main ‘Achilles heel’ and will obviate the need for an override clause.
- Anchoring the Supreme Court’s authority to conduct judicial review of ordinary laws only insofar as they contradict Basic Laws is meaningless given that there will be no judicial review of Basic Laws, nor of ordinary laws infringing on rights recognized in case law as a derivative of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, such as the right to equality and freedom of expression that have yet to be explicitly anchored in Basic Laws.
- Incorporating explicit recognition of the rights to equality, freedom of/from religion, and freedom of expression into Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is indeed welcome but useless, as it does not address the elimination of judicial review of Basic Laws and ordinary laws infringing on these rights.
- Changing the Judicial Selection Committee’s composition will increase its politicization and decrease its professionalism.
- The blueprint would weaken the independent and professional status of the legal counsels of government ministries and would introduce position-of-trust characteristics to their jobs.
- The proposal regarding the reasonableness standard would emasculate it and render it ineffective.
Zulat has additional criticism of other elements of the blueprint which, if need be, it will address in the future, along with any new blueprint that is published.