In recent decades there has been a judicial change in Israel. For years, the judiciary slowly eroded the authority vested in the elected officials. For many years in various rulings, the Supreme Court justices have assumed authority to the point where they did not feel obligated to the simple interpretation of the laws of the state. Rather, they interpreted the laws according to the agendas and values they have adopted, often contrary to the position of the elected officials in the Knesset and the government. For example, the entry of BDS activists into Israel, the prohibition on the state revoking the residency of terrorists who reside in prison, the prohibition on removing infiltrators from Israel, all these and others are examples of the severe consequences of the biased interpretation of the court and the assumption of the authority to make governmental decisions.
The judicial system, which for decades has not received much interest from the public, has recently assumed a central place in the public discourse. It seems that the judicial system is permeating with the realization that their place in the top echelons of the State of Israel is nearing an end. Thus, in recent weeks, petitions of jurists, lecturers, and military leaders have appeared, calling for the restoration of the legal system to its natural place.
The public interest in the legal system has not been created by itself. In the past 15 years, the Legal Forum for Israel has been working to raise the issue of the role of the judicial system on the public agenda precisely because of the importance of the judicial system in a democratic country. Over the years, following our activities the committee wrote and published protocols in the judicial system, filed complaints against judges who should have been dismissed, set up an audit body over the State Prosecutor’s Office, and so forth. Over the years, other organizations have also joined the Legal Forum’s activities. They too understood that the current legal system in Israel the public’s will to vote is meaningless. It is judicial system that usually sets the tone by means of judicial decisions that force the other authorities to adapt to them.
The cries of the justice system’s senior officials against the will of the elected officials to restore the balance between the authorities by returning the court to its natural place, best demonstrate the need for this reform. Claims such as saying that we do not trust the elected officials but rely on the judges who were able to choose correctly; Judges who have become accustomed to ruling according to their political opinion on amorphous grounds and not according to the law determined by elected officials; and claims such as ‘the end of democracy’ show that true democracy is not the central issue in the struggle but rather the governing of political agendas.
In the face of the protests, the Legal Forum of more than 400 lawyers and jurists stands as a solid front and shows that in contrast to the attempt to portray the issue as a legal matter on the other side, it is nothing more than a purely political issue that is being dragged into the legal field to blind the public.
These days, as the judicial system is aiming to preserve the authority it has assumed and the wind is blowing in the direction of important initiatives to restore balance between the authorities, organizations that are not dependent on one government or another, such as the Legal Forum, are continuously helping to strengthen the direction of the wind and to strengthen the public’s trust in the judicial system.
(Written by Moshe Eyal)