While opposition lawmakers and anarchist organizers lamented Monday’s Knesset passage of a measure to eliminate the “reasonableness clause” – which eliminates judiciary ability to strike down cabinet appointments and government decisions it deems “unreasonable” – government ministers celebrated the move.
“We are now going out to a long recess now, and I am starting it knowing that we passed an important law, but without joy and with a real desire to bring together all parts of the people,” Justice Minister Yariv Levin said after the law’s ratification in the plenum.
Levin was a major architect in the development of the government’s judicial overhaul plan. Elimination of the “reasonableness standard” is part one of the planned reforms.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich expressed unrestrained joy in a tweet following the passage of the measure.
“After hard work and years-long effort, we are beginning to repair the judicial system and return the balance between the authorities which was broken 30 years ago by [then-Chief Justice] Aharon Barak,” he wrote.
“Thank you to the prime minister, coalition members, the justice minister, and to my partner and colleague Simcha Rothman. Together, we will continue to repair responsibly.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been accused by the Biden Administration and leftist lawmakers as being the “most extreme” member of the government coalition, emphasized the law would make the State of Israel “a little more democratic.
“The law we passed today is important for democracy, but this is only the beginning,” he noted.
“For a more Jewish and more democratic State of Israel we have to pass the rest of the reform, at the top of which is the Judicial Selection Committee composition and changing the authority of attorneys-general.”
Kohelet Forum’s Eugene Kontorovich
Kohelet Forum founder and director Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who has helped plan the reforms, warned against rushing into the rest of the judicial overhaul, saying it was important to show Israelis that no catastrophe has befallen the country.
After today's very minor win on judicial reform, the government should not rush headlong into further reform proposals, rather first show the sky is not falling. The opposition should show they can take a loss and move on. As for the Court it can't be a judge its own case.
— Eugene Kontorovich (@EVKontorovich) July 24, 2023
“After today’s very minor win on judicial reform, the government should not rush headlong into further reform proposals, rather first show the sky is not falling,” Kontorovich wrote in a tweet.
“The opposition should show they can take a loss and move on,” he advised, adding, “As for the Court, it can’t be a judge [in] its own case.”
Ben Shapiro, conservative talk show host and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, also weighed in, commenting the newly passed measure is important but not the tragedy that opposition leadership has painted it to be.
“The current Israeli government had to pass the judicial reform. It is INCREDIBLY mild: it merely says that the judiciary cannot simply declare a law “unconstitutional” in a land with no written constitution on the basis of it being ‘unreasonable.’
“Imagine the Supreme Court in the United States routinely striking down popularly-passed legislation without citing anything but their own view of whether such legislation is “reasonable.” No legal arguments, no citations of a written text, no authority. Nothing. That’s the situation currently,” Shapiro pointed out in a lengthy, tweeted statement.
The current Israeli government had to pass the judicial reform. It is INCREDIBLY mild: it merely says that the judiciary cannot simply declare a law "unconstitutional" in a land with no written constitution on the basis of it being "unreasonable."
Imagine the Supreme Court in…
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 24, 2023
“If the elected government stops its policy because reservists say they won’t volunteer if it passes and financial and union powers say they will help shut down the economy, they will incentivize endless societal shutdowns. The same means of anti-democratic shutdown will be used on all future legislation and all future governments that aren’t in line with such protesters, endangering Israel’s economy and security,” Shapiro wrote.
“The absurdity of morons like Thomas Friedman calling on Joe Biden to step in — the same Joe Biden currently claiming that the US Supreme Court is undemocratic and undermining its own legitimacy — is apparent. It’s more about Democrats’ increasing antipathy for Israel than anything reality based.
“Israel will not collapse. It will not break into civil war. It will continue to be a fractious and chaotic country filled with highly opinionated people who fight with each other, and then share arak and chamin and cholent and falafel,” he added.
Former US Ambassador David M. Friedman
Former US Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman noted in a tweeted statement Monday evening that the Knesset had passed just one element of the government’s judicial reform plan.
“Much work still lies ahead,” he wrote.
“The views on both sides are heartfelt and legitimate and I am hoping and praying that efforts continue – and succeed – to find a consensus.
“In the interim, Israel needs and deserves US support, indeed all our support, more than ever,” Friedman emphasized.