Israel Announces Revamp of Judicial System Aimed at Reducing Supreme Court Power

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin

Israel’s justice minister has announced a revamp of the country’s judicial system, aimed at reducing the power of the supreme court. The move, promised during election campaigning by the newly-formed government, will grant almost  unlimited power to the most conservative coalition in the nation’s history, critics say.

Yariv Levin, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, revealed the plan one day before the justices debated a new law passed by the government permitting a lawmaker convicted of tax offenses to serve as a cabinet minister. The law is understood to have been written to protect Netanyahu’s position, with the leader currently under investigation.

Levin advocated a series of amendments intended at limiting the authority of the judiciary, including permitting lawmakers to adopt unconstitutional laws ruled down by the supreme court.

The proposed bill would allow the 120-member Knesset to overturn decisions of the country’s supreme court with a simple majority of 61 votes. Levin also advocated that politicians play a larger role in the selection of supreme court judges and that ministries appoint their own legal counsel rather than relying on independent specialists.

Levin contended that public confidence in the judicial system had reached an all-time low, and he stated that he intended to return power to elected politicians that is currently held by too interventionist judges.

“We go to the polls and vote, we choose, but time and again, we are ruled by those we did not elect,” he remarked. That is not democratic.

It is uncertain if the attorney general of Israel and the Israeli opposition would be able to stop the far-right administration from implementing the proposed changes.

The former prime minister and leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, stated that he would oppose the measures “in every way possible” and vowed to reverse them if he returned to office. “Those who carry out a unilateral coup in Israel must understand that we are in no way obligated to support them,” he stated.