Bringing Clarity to Complex Political Issues

Do judges undermine legislative negotiations?

It is difficult to understand why President Isaac Herzog found it appropriate, especially during a critical time for the unofficial and secretive negotiations taking place regarding a resolution to the constitutional crisis, to declare that “the entirety of legislation currently being deliberated in the committee [in the Knesset]… undermines and challenges our democratic foundations” and should “be removed from the world and quickly.” Did he cave under the criticism from the warring factions seeking to prevent a resolution? How can such a one-sided stance be helpful to the negotiations he is promoting? After all, coalition leaders are returning and declaring their desire for a resolution to remove the legislation mentioned above from the picture.

Levin’s proposals are not draconian, yet he is willing to negotiate and improve them, especially in arranging the fundamental laws’ legislation. The coalition’s reasonable response to the President’s angry one-sided demand is also unclear.

Netanyahu has returned and declared, “I congratulate all the initiatives that will allow us to continue together, including the initiative of the President.” The Chairwoman of the Constitution Committee, Michal Roitman, responded similarly. A possible way to understand the terse expressions we hear beyond the covert negotiations is that coalition leaders know that not only protest organizers but also politicians, especially the group of judges led by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, are trying to thwart the President’s mediation. This is a demonstration of the need to curb politicized judges who are trying to control things behind the scenes.

Perhaps their criticism was hinted at by Herzog’s words, “I welcome all criticism, difficult and painful as it may be.” It is possible that the President was pressured by the judges, while coalition leaders are playing down his words to help him overcome attempts to undermine the negotiations.

Do supporters of Israel, such as Hayut and opposition politicians, want to reach a constitutional crisis and prevent a resolution? Do they prefer to rebel in the Knesset? There is no other description for a situation in which the Supreme Court will nullify the Basic Law that forbids it from nullifying Basic Laws. This will destroy the rule of law and dangerously violate Israeli society. Reason and the heart cannot bear the possibility that we will reach such a wild place.

Do Hayut and her political supporters trust Netanyahu and Levin so much that they are confident that they can break the burden of responsibility for Israel? Are they allowing themselves to play the role of a madman in the hope of stirring up Netanyahu and Levin? Hopefully, this description is wrong. But if not, it can be assumed that they are playing this disruptive role because of their own interests, the committee for the appointment of judges.

Perhaps they believe that a “crisis of conscience” is necessary to protect the voting right they have been granted under the current appointment system. They know that Levin will find it difficult to keep it in his hands in any resolution, and therefore they allow themselves to gamble irresponsibly with our fate. Why can’t Levin agree to maintain the voting right? Because of the very strong dominance of the progressive and authoritarian interpretation among the small group of senior jurists, law professors, prosecutors, and senior lawyers who are the candidates for appointment to the Supreme Court.

Hayut likely understands that Levin cannot give up on this negotiation and therefore seeks to persuade him instead of negotiating with him. Without a majority for the coalition, the court will be very autocratic and disconnected from the people. Hayut and her colleagues are probably not willing to give up a grain of power in the committee for the appointment of judges. But they will have to give up here, and the sacrifice is not great. The majority of the rotating coalitions are not “the end of democracy.” Let us stop the historical hysteria.