Thank God, almost seven months after Justice Minister Yariv Levin introduced his ambitious plan to fix Israel’s ailing judicial system, and confrontations between the democratically elected government and a rowdy opposition, confrontations that also included dizzying protests of mostly the same ten thousand or so dedicated, brilliantly organized and lavishly funded anarchists against a mostly-silent majority that never expected this much malevolence, On Monday afternoon, July 24, 2023, the representatives of some 2.5 million voters finally amended something.
After all the many reservations of the opposition parties were rejected, the opposition MKs left the plenum in an act of protest, and the house proceeded to count the votes of the majority coalition. There was some tension in the house when the clerk announced the name of MK Yoav Gallant, and he said “Be’ad,” meaning in favor. The role call continued and then, in a very anticlimactic moment, the bill became a law with a vote of 64 to 0.
There was enough drama in the Knesset on Monday for an Aaron Sorkin television series to rival The West Wing. There were hundreds of militant demonstrators determined to prevent lawmakers from entering the Knesset; coalition MKs were sneaking in through a parking lot to avoid the mob; there were hectic, last-minute negotiations between opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, through go-betweens, with the coalition leadership, with more of the same inherently unacceptable demands being rejected by the powers that be until the whole thing blew up; there was a last-ditch effort on the part of two presidents, Herzog and Biden; there were even last-minute amendments from some coalition MKs, and those, too, were dropped.
And there was Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who came to the Knesset accompanied by the security apparatus brass, and then performed a breathtaking feat of acrobatics, first not entering the plenum, then avoiding the vote, and finally, when it became clear to everyone that this time, if he defies the coalition discipline, he’d be sacked tonight and no anarchists would bother to protest the move on Kaplan Street – that’s when Gallant folded and voted with the pack, to form a satisfying majority vote of 64 in favor.
We received this while waiting with bated breath for the vote:
The leadership of the Jewish Agency sent the same letter to PM Netanyahu and Opposition Leader MK Yair Lapid, amid the fisticuffs: “We urge you to make use of all the tools available to you to find the broadest common denominator, for the sake of Kiruv Levavot within Am Israel. Together, we will continue to be a beacon of hope, strength, and unity. ‘I GOD, in My grace, have summoned you, and I have grasped you by the hand. I created you, and appointed you A covenant people, a light of nations’ (Isaiah 42)”
Lapid issued this statement ahead of the vote: “With this government, it is impossible to reach agreements that preserve Israeli democracy.”
There was also a report on Reshet Bet Radio about a petition that’s being organized by right-wing IDF reservists who threaten that if the judicial reform is stopped, they will stop serving.
In his speech ahead of the vote on restricting the reasonability clause, MK Simcha Rothman said from the podium that the reasonability doctrine was born in 1980, in the Yellow Pages ruling, and it was attacked at the time from every direction. Rothman also cited Judge Alex Stein, who “commented that this feature of the judiciary allows the judge to step into the shoes of the executive branch.”
“The new reasonability has definitely harmed the ability of the executive branch to manage their steps,” added Rothman, “thereby harming the principle of the separation of powers.” He noted that this created “an acute democratic deficit since the court gave itself the power to extend this authority to appointments in the executive branch, something with no equal in the world. A different, effective solution is required.”
Well, folks, on Monday afternoon, July 24, 2023, we started working on it.