Tzav Herum (translation from Hebrew: Emergency Call) was born from an understanding that Israel is currently in the most severe democratic crisis in its history.
Since its establishment, the 37th Israeli government has been relentlessly working to transition Israel from a quasi-authoritarian state towards an absolute dictatorship. The report “Pseudo Democracy: State of the Regime in Israel” published by Zulat in June 2022, warned that Israel has never been an exemplar of liberal democracy. Moreover, since Netanyahu’s second term in 2009, he has continuously implemented processes that reinforced the authoritarian aspects of the regime. Since the start of Netanyahu’s third term as Prime Minister, we are witnessing an accelerated continuation of these processes in the form of steps to systematically weaken the judicial system’s gatekeeping ability. These dangerous steps have sparked a persistent pro-democracy movement of an unprecedented scale, never before seen in Israeli history.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin acknowledged that the “Constitutional Revolution” law was authored by the right-wing organization Kohelet Forum. Zulat Institute initiated the Emergency Call Project in response to the destructive initiatives provided by the Kohelet Forum. As part of the project, former Knesset members with extensive parliamentary experience are coming for the first time in an organized manner to Knesset committee discussions to voice their opinion against the government’s attempts to orchestrate a constitutional revolution.
The government’s intent to weaken the judicial system’s power and nullify its role as a guardian protecting human rights was presented for the first time by Justice Minister Yariv Levin at a press conference on 4.1.23. Specific bill proposals were subsequently submitted by the chairman of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, Simcha Rotman. The chairman also submitted proposals to strengthen the power of the government, limit the ability of other gatekeepers, and harm democracy and human rights.
Tzav Herum is taking parliamentary and public action. In Knesset committees, particularly in sessions of the Constitution Committee, where former Knesset members attended, equipped with detailed subject matter position papers from Zulat Institute. They voiced their opinions in the discussions, and their appearances were filmed and published in the media and on social networks to increase public awareness of what was happening in the Knesset. In addition to extensive media and social network activity, Former Knesset members and ministers participated in panels where they spoke before the public, demonstrations, and other public events.
Tzav Herum’s petition against the constitutional revolution was first published in the Haaretz newspaper, signed by 78 former Knesset members. Subsequently, the public was invited to join the petition, adding half a million signatories, forming the largest protest body in the country opposing the constitutional revolution.
Today, Tzav Herum has 104 former Knesset members from 23 parties across the political spectrum as partners.
During the first session of the 25th Knesset, from January to March 2023, 32 former Knesset members participated in committee discussions 93 times and gave 47 speeches. Most of them were discussions in the Constitution Committee of the Knesset, relating to the laws of the constitutional revolution. In addition to the Constitution Committee, former Knesset members attended meetings in the Foreign and Security Committee, the Special Committee for Youth Affairs, the Special Committee for Amendments to the Police Ordinance, the Special Committee for Amendments to the Basic Law of Government, and more.
Change in the composition of the Judges’ Selection Committee
Legislation status: After the second and third reading in the Law Committee, before the second and third reading in the plenum.
Implication: The composition of the Judges’ Selection Committee will change to have 11 members: three judges (when appointing judges to the Supreme Court, three Supreme Court judges will sit on the committee when appointing lower-ranking judges, three non-supreme Court judges will sit on the committee), three government representatives (the Minister of Justice and two additional ministers), three Knesset members from the coalition, and two from the opposition. The proposed composition implies complete coalition control over the committee’s decisions. Subsequently, the bill was amended so that the coalition could appoint the first two Supreme Court justices in each term without the need for support from the other committee members. For the third appointment, they will need the approval of the opposition representative, and the fourth appointment and onwards will require both the approval of the opposition representative and the judges’ representative.
The Overriding Clause and Limiting Judicial Review on Non-Basic Laws
Legislation status: After first reading in the plenum.
Implication: The proposed amendment is to establish strict conditions for the repeal of laws or statutory provisions by the Supreme Court (by a full panel of all judges, a majority of 80% of all judges, and limiting judicial review of regular laws only to cases where there is a substantial contradiction between them and the Basic Laws) and to introduce an overriding clause with a majority of 61 Knesset members. In practice: The Knesset can legislate any law, even if it infringes on human rights.
Immunizing Basic Laws from Judicial Review
Legislation status: After first reading in the plenum.
The proposal establishes a total ban on judicial review of Foundational Laws. This amendment would allow the Knesset to legislate any law without judicial review as long as it is called a Foundational Law. This is a complete dismantling of the already shaky constitutional framework in Israel.
Repeal of the Reasonablenes Principle
Legislation status: Not advanced.
Implication: The principle of reasonableness would be abolished by proposing an amendment to the Basic Law: Judicature, significantly limiting the court’s power to annul governmental decisions.
Abolishing the Independence of Legal Advisors
Legislation status: Not advanced.
Implication: The proposal explicitly establishes a default that each minister is his ministry’s legal advisor. Thus, a minister will not be bound by other legal advice. A minister can reject other legal advice and determine the position of his office presented to anyone with jurisdiction according to the law. By doing so, the legal advisors lose their authority and guardians’ role.
Amendment to Clause 6 of the Basic Law: The Government – The Dery Law
Legislation status: Before the second-third reading in the plenum.
Amendment to Clause 6 of The Government Basic Law, which determines the eligibility of ministers, in a manner that prevents judicial review on the reasonableness of a minister’s eligibility or any other aspect of appointing a person as a minister, except for compliance with the minimal instructions of the clause itself. The amendment paves the way for corruption and inequality and prevents the court from performing its role in limiting executive power.”
The Impeachment Law
Legislation Status: Passed in the plenum.
The proposal restricts the incapacitation of the Prime Minister only to cases where physical or mental disability prevents him from fulfilling his role and also stipulates that the authority to declare incapacity will be vested only in the Prime Minister himself. In cases where the Prime Minister cannot do so due to those physical or mental incapacitations, the government will do so with a special majority of three-quarters of its members. As far as the decision was made by the government contrary to the opinion of the Prime Minister himself, the government’s decision will be submitted for the approval of the Knesset plenum, to be given by a special majority of ninety Knesset members, and only after the Knesset’s approval will the Prime Minister’s incapacity come into effect. The declaration will be a political decision with no judicial review or relevance to the position of the Legal Advisory to the Government. The proposal opens the door to severe corruption and enables the tenure of a Prime Minister even when he has been convicted of criminal offenses.”
Amendment to the Police Ordinance – The Ben-Gvir Law
The original amendment was split into two separate laws. One to subject the police to the Minister of National Security and to grant powers concerning the police work was approved. The second amendment subjects the Commissioner himself to the Minister. This amendment has not yet been legislated.
(A) The subjugation of the Police to the Minister of National Security (Amendment 37 to the Law)
Legislation status: Passed
Implication: It is stipulated that the Minister of National Security will be in charge of the Israel Police on behalf of the government, and the Minister’s authority to formulate the police policy and the general principles for its activity was also established. In particular, the Minister’s power to develop a broad approach to conduct investigations was established, including setting the principal order of priorities regarding the duration of case treatment (in consultation with the Legal Advisor to the Government, the Commissioner, and those in the police in charge of investigations). The law severely harms equality before the law. It allows the Minister of National Security to formulate a policy for the police to exercise power in an arbitrary, racist, and political manner.
(B) The subjection of the Commissioner to the Minister of National Security (Amendment 39 to the Law)
Legislation Status: Passed in the first reading
This proposal was split from the amendment to the law already passed in the plenum (Amendment 37). The amendment stipulates the direct subordination of the Commissioner to the Minister and grants the Minister the authority to determine the timing of case handling. This additional proposal further increases the risk of biased and corrupt use of the police as a political tool by the Minister.
In addition to position papers regarding the laws themselves, former Knesset members were also provided with reports analyzing the overall impacts that the reform will have in two contexts: its consequences on women’s rights and its effects on public health.
In the backseat: The regime revolution is a setback for women’s rights.
A position paper written by attorney Reut Galblum reviews the far-reaching effects of the planned changes
in the legal system and of additional measures taken by the government, on the status of women. The legislation to weaken the Judiciary will leave the citizens with no aid, if and when harmful legislative proposals are put forward, and hurt fundamental rights to freedom of expression, equality, due process, family life, freedom of movement as well as to elect and be elected.
Also, additional measures threaten to harm the rights and status of women: the reduction of women’s representation in the centers
of decision making, changing the qualifications needed for carrying weapons, the government’s refusal to join the Istanbul Convention, amending the discrimination law, expansion of the powers of the rabbinic courts and more.
Dictatorship is not healthy: Consequences of Regime Change on Public Health
Authors: Advocate Dr. Shelly Kamin-Friedman in collaboration with the Association of Public Health Physicians.
The paper presents how dismantling the legal checks and balances on the government endangers public health. The report emphasizes the role of the High Court of Justice (HCJ) as a central body that allows those harmed by authoritative decisions to express their stance, the part of the HCJ’s authority in building public trust in governmental policy, the danger of weakening the gatekeepers protecting public health, and the danger in weakening social solidarity, which is vital for implementing public health policy.
Read the full position paper
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.
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.
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.