ISRAEL: The debate in Israel over the government’s proposed judicial changes is based on public distrust of the government. Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing administration was led by a coalition of conservative and religious parties, with the most important item being “judicial reform” to give legislators more control over the selection of judges and restrict the high court’s authority to overturn laws.
Israel’s largest-ever protest movement against a proposed law has sparked hundreds of thousands of people to denounce a “judicial coup.” Last month, a wildcat strike day caused Netanyahu to declare a halt to the legislation until the Knesset reconvenes for its summer session.
Simcha Rothman chairs the committee for the constitution, justice, and law and is a member of the Knesset for the Religious Zionist party. He and Justice Minister Yariv Levin are leading judicial ideas in Israel.
Polls show that the majority of the population is aware of the need for judicial reform. All sides of the argument agree that the court has a significant influence on public affairs.
The protests are rooted in mistrust of the administration, as they are religious and conservative, and the prime minister is under investigation on three counts. The battle to topple the government was carefully planned, and if it weren’t for the reforms, it would be something else.
The soundproof Knesset meeting room where the constitution committee debates extensive judicial reform before bringing proposals to the floor for votes is a good thing because the yelling contests between Rothman and other lawmakers are brutal.
Rothman is an expert on Israeli law and politics, a public lawyer by training, and has a master’s degree from Northwestern University. He has long argued that the Supreme Court has a left-leaning bias and that a 1995 decision allowing the court to invalidate Knesset legislation gave an unelected bench of justices unfettered power.
Netanyahu established the Movement for Governability and Democracy in 2013 to restore the balance between the legislative and judicial branches.
In 2021, his far-right party was elected to the Knesset, becoming Israel’s third-largest party in the 2022 elections. He is determined to seize this opportunity to achieve his goal.
The allegations made by demonstrators and the opposition are unfair, but it is a reality that people are terrified. Rothman argues that a democracy cannot become a dictatorship due to its culture and attitude, which are ingrained in the populace’s culture and attitude. This prevents the UK from becoming a brutal dictatorship.
Rothman is optimistic but cautious about an agreement between the government and the opposition, as long as it doesn’t give any political party the power to veto, allows people to vote on judges, and prevents a takeover by one party.
Rothman argues that the public should have a voice in who judges are, but this is no longer legitimate due to fake news. He believes debate and criticism are beneficial to democracy, and the road to dictatorship is to believe you have the final say.