Streit – Streik – Protest – Justizreform: Was ist gerade in Israel los?

Hallo Leser,

In diesem Artikel beschreiben zwei Schüler der Har VaGai Schule (Partnerschule der RBGs in Israel), was genau in Israel gerade passiert und wie das Rechtsystem aufgebaut ist. Außerdem beschreiben sie, wie die politischen Konflikte die Bevölkerung im Allgemeinen und ganz besonders das Schulleben beeinflussen.

The Political Situation In Israel From an Israeli Citizens Point-Of-View

Disclaimer – the first few pages clarify what exactly is happening in Israel now, and how our Judicial system is built. If you’re already familiar with the way things are in Israel, you’re more than welcome to start reading from page 3, subtitle “How the Reform Affects Us As Citizens”.

Hello dear readers from Germany, my name is Amit. The other writer of this article and I are Israeli students from Har Vagai school in the north of Israel. For those of you that don’t know, Har Vagai school and Robert Bosch Gymnasium have a common history of student exchanges, and I even took part in one and visited the school.

In this article, we will explain to you about the complicated political situation in Israel, and how it affects us and our classmates. Before we start talking about the current situation in Israel, we need to know what Israel has been through in recent years.

Some numbers:

  • 5 elections in three years (the norm should be one every 4 years).
  • 15,000,000,000 shekels (3,865,003,341 euros), were wasted in these five election sets.
  • 47 Jews and Arabs have been murdered in Palestinian attacks in the last year, 14 in the last month.
  • 104 cases of murder in Arab society in one year.
  • And in short, madness, the terrorism does not stop, the violence does not stop, and the division in the people only increases.

On December 29, 2022, after 5 elections in three years, a new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu began to serve. This government is considered the most right-wing government that Israel has seen since the establishment of the state.
The new government demands a reform of the judicial system. According to them, the judicial system is rotten and requires extensive change. The reform includes 3 main sections.

Important information
  • Israel has one house of parliament – the Knesset.
  • The Knesset has 120 members.
  • To form a government (coalition) a majority of 61 members is required.
  • The Supreme Court has 15 judges.
  • In Israel, there is no constitution, there are fundamental laws.
  • A special majority is not required to enact or repeal a basic law.
Let’s talk about how the judges are selected:

Current situation (before the reform):
The committee that elects the judges consists of three coalition members, an opposition member, three Supreme Court judges, and two lawyers. A total of 9 members.

To elect a judge a majority of 7 out of 9 is required, meaning there must be an agreement between the politicians and the other representatives. This method is used in several other countries in the world, for example, Canada, Australia, and more.

The proposed amendment in the reform:
The committee that will select the judges will consist of the President of the Supreme Court, and two judges appointed by the Minister of Justice, with the approval of the President of the Supreme Court. Five coalition members and one opposition member. A total of 9 members.

To choose a judge, a majority of 5 out of 9 will be required, which means that the coalition will be able to choose the judges even without the consent of the other members of the committee.

Supporters and opponents:
The supporters of the reform claim that the Supreme Court will represent the public’s views, while the opponents claim that the reform will turn the court into a political one, with judges with extreme views committed to the politicians who elected them. According to them, the reform will damage the division of authorities principle (which is a basic democratic principle) and harm the rights of the minority.

In addition to their claim, almost all the cases that reach the courts deal only with civil and criminal matters, therefore this reform will introduce political considerations into the decisions of the courts and thus giving the coalition absolute power.

Let’s talk about overriding clause and reasonability:

Current situation (before the reform):
The Supreme Court can invalidate the government’s decisions under the following conditions: violation of the rights of the minority, and contradiction to the basic law or if it believes that the government’s decision or law is unreasonable.

For example, a criminal cannot be a minister in the government, because the government is under supervision by the Supreme Court. The method of the supervision of the authorities over each other is called “Checks and Balances”.

The proposed amendment in the reform:
The Supreme Court will be empowered to overturn laws provided that 12 out of 15 judges vote against the law or decision.

The Supreme Court will not be able to cancel fundamental laws or criticize them (no special majority is required for the enactment of a fundamental law). Although the Supreme Court will be able to annul laws, the government can overcome the disqualification with a majority of 61 members, the decision will be valid until the end of the government’s term and then the next government can re-enact the law without the possibility of a Supreme Court. The court can invalidate the law. Also, reasonableness will be eliminated. This is called “The Overcoming Paragraph”.

supporters and opponents:
Supporters of the reform claim that the laws and decisions enacted by the government represent the people and therefore should not be repealed.

While the opponents claim that the reform will harm human rights and minorities, the government will be able to enact any law it deems appropriate even if it contradicts any law and fundamental rights, thereby harming the public, they claim, because of the ease with which a fundamental law can be enacted, the government will be able to enact anti-minorities laws and laws that contradict human rights. Additionally, they claim that overriding will destroy the balance between the various government systems and might turn Israel into a dictatorship that tramples on its citizens.

To sum up:
The reform includes a large number of other sections that we did not talk about. Those sections will change the legal system and the country, will it be for the better or for worse? Opinions are very divided and only time will tell, the only certain thing, Israel is facing a difficult, complicated, and dangerous period.

How the Reform Affects Us As Citizens

The political mayhem affects us, the citizens of israel in many different ways:

A Disaster to The Economy
Since the beginning of the talks on the reform, Israel’s economy has deteriorated. Hundreds of economists from Israel and the world are warning the government and the public that if the reform is passed, it will destroy Israel’s economy. Investors and international companies are afraid to invest in Israel because of the reform, and high-tech companies and people in Israel are transferring their money abroad because of fear of the collapse of the shekel’s value and the transformation of Israel into a dictatorial state.

In addition, politicians from the coalition threaten the independence of the Bank of Israel, something that intensifies the concerns among investors and citizens.

The Hate And Division Amongst The Different Parties
The Israeli nation is a very small nation, with an estimated population of 9.565 million people. The Israeli country is surrounded by the enemies of Israel, and it is also a relatively new country. The variety of the population creates an atmosphere both interesting and problematic. Unfortunately, this variety is now a stick in our wheel. The problem is, due to the difference of opinions, a lot of hate is expressed. And the more different people are from each other, the easier it is to make them despise each other. Because of the difference of political views, it is not uncommon to hear hate in Israel nowadays. The reform might decide the future of our country, so it feels like the land is in flames because of the arguments and the conflicts.

The Protests and Riots
There are protests all over Israel. if you drive across the land you might go through dozens of junctions, filled with protesters. Furthermore, there were even some violent protests, and protests that the police didn’t confirm. Also, some people protest over a threat to their own position or job, including doctors, social services and even soldiers. Pretty common crowds to find in between the lines of those protests are members of the LGBTQ community and women, due to the extreme conservatism of the rightist government, and the fear of discrimination, homophobia and misogyny in their views.           

In Our School
Within our school community, there is a strong sense of engagement surrounding the current state of affairs. Conversations centered on this topic frequently arise amongst both our teachers and curious students alike, often featuring a wide range of thoughtful opinions and perspectives.

In addition, the ongoing situation has led to a significant number of school days being cancelled due to strikes initiated by the Israeli education system. As a result, our academic calendar has been disrupted.

Thank you, dear readers from Germany, for your interest in the situation in Israel, from the authors of this article, Amit Tsarfaty and Tomer Gottesmann.