Consequences of Regime Change on Public Health

>> Read the full Position Paper

This position paper was submitted to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee during the discussions on the proposals to weaken the judicial system. It presents the possible effects of this reform as it pertains to the authority of government ministries’ legal counsels and of the Supreme Court as the counterbalance to government decisions, and how upsetting this balance will endanger public health. The paper elaborates on the following points:

1. Supreme Court: Main Body Giving Voice to Victims of Government Decisions

Government decisions, even those outside the medical field such as taxation policy, urban planning, and more have a significant impact on public health. Hence, abolishing judicial review of governmental decisions means eliminating the protection of public health. Past experience shows that the Supreme Court’s review more than once led to reconsideration and policy adjustments that protected the individual’s right, such as with regard to the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the corona pandemic.

2. Supreme Court’s Authority to Examine Government Policy Strengthens Public Trust

Even when petitions on behalf of victims of government decisions are rejected, the Supreme Court’s endorsement of the government’s policy strengthens public confidence in this policy.

3. Weakening Gatekeepers Protecting Public Health 

Over time, additional components were introduced to the proposed reform, such as reducing the independence of government ministries’ legal counsels, enacting an override clause, and changing the way judges are appointed, all of which could also affect the checks and balances required to protect public health.

4. Social Solidarity: Essential Element for Implementation of Public Health Policy

Dealing with crises in the health sector requires collective action. The corona pandemic illustrated to us all that the willingness to self-isolate, wear a mask, and get vaccinated in order not to infect others is based on solidarity; that is, on a sense of community and identification, which leads to willingness to act for the common good. The acute public controversy over the proposed reform of the legal system in Israel, and specifically with regards to the Supreme Court’s authority to review government decisions, harms social cohesion and could in no time harm solidarity. The erosion of solidarity will impede the efforts to deal with health crises that are yet to come.

The basic premise that “health” in the broadest sense includes the protection of the rights of the individual and the community, along with the realization that implementation of a policy pertaining to public health requires the public’s trust, lead to the conclusion that the preservation of checks and balances, including the Supreme Court’s authority to review and critique government decisions, is of utmost significance. In view of the importance of checks that balance the legislative branch and of public trust in the state’s decisions for the purpose of dealing with health crises, there is no room for changes that do not enjoy broad public approval, in the legal system in general and in the Supreme Court’s authority in particular.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.