Knesset Passes Controversial Bills Amid Criticism Of An ‘Assault On Israeli Democracy’


knessetThe Knesset approved this evening a bill proposing to abolish the rule that a justice cannot be appointed Supreme Court president unless he is at least three years short of the mandatory retirement age of 70. The bill would pave Justice Asher Grunis’ way to becoming Supreme Court president. 52 MKs voted in favor, 35 voted against the bill.

Grunis is seen as a conservative judge who mostly refrains from intervening in decisions made by the executive and legislative branches, and is thus popular with right-wing politicians. But when Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch retires at the end of February 2012, Grunis will be five weeks short of three years from retirement.
MKs wave black flags in protest of the bills in the Knesset, November 14, 2011.

Photo by: Emil Salman

Another bill, dubbed ‘the Sohlberg bill,’ and is sponsored by MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu ) was also approved. The bill would change the way the Israel Bar Association’s two representatives on the Judicial Appointments Committee are selected. Currently, the bar’s national council picks both; the bill would require one to be the bar chairman and the other a member of the bar’s internal opposition.

The bill paves the way for Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg to sitting on Israel’s highest tribunal of justice. Sohlberg, who lives in the settlement of Alon Shvut, has in the past been criticized for rulings thought to infringe freedom of the press.

MKs from both the opposition and the governing coalition voiced strong criticism of the proposed laws, saying they are draconian and anti-democratic.

“We will fight Netanyahu’s draconian laws,” said Kadima chairwoman and opposition leader Tzipi Livni. “This is an attempt to turn Israel into a dark… dictatorship.” Livni added: “Every government minister, even if he or she opposes the laws, is part of a system that is silencing the citizens. This is not a matter of an opposition to the government; there must be a front that expresses the sane and balanced voice.”

Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich said, “We are under a combined attack on Israeli democracy. Netanyahu cannot hide behind Yariv Levin and Zeev Elkin. Without his support their crazy bills would not have passed.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “It’s important to defend the Supreme Court… any interference that weakens the Supreme Court weakens democracy.”

{Haaretz/ Newscenter}


  1. Barak means, any interference that weakens the Supreme Court strengthens democracy.

    The Israeli Supreme Court is one of the most monochromatic institutions in the state. If there’s anything that resembles a dark dictatorship, this is it: a Supreme Court that intereferes in all government decisions and makes rulings without quoting legal precedent.

    The left is getting panicky that their grip on society might be weakened.

  2. Ahhhhh! Watch all these bleeding heart lefties squirm once they have to take the bitter pill of their own medicine. As long as the left is in power they can pass any law they want that infringes on the rights of the right wing population and their needs as citizens, but the moment the tables turn,OH BOY look out. This is so patently stupid and obvious at this point, that even laws like the ones that just passed today, that in fact will move Israel away from being a “very liberal democracy” are now paletable and accepted by the majority of the government. Natanyahu is not hiding behind anyone. The bills went to vote after three readings and were passed by a majority of the kenesset, its done, shut up and live with it Mrs Livni.

  3. “Israeli Democracy” You are Right! Not Democracy, but Israeli Democracy. A very BIG difference. We Jews, who live in Eretz Yisroel, know that the State of Israel’s time to end its Job is nearing. HaKadosh Barouch Who, chose the secular leftist to build the infrastructure. Now it is time for them, to take a bow, and leave the stage. That can’t happen until, ALL of us Jews, unite and have the ZeChus for this to happen. Hashem is waiting. Otherwise, if not, we will keep on reading these pathetic articles about Israeli Democracy, and how the Jews are ruining their country.

  4. #1, awesome is absolutely right. The Israeli supreme court is notorious for anti-democratic, radical leftist leanings which is so bold as to dictate to even the prime minister and the military, if they deem so. They are the ones giving the orders to demolish settlements. They are the ones who give the orders to stop the military in the middle of a war, so Israel loses and causes a chilul and makes a mockery of its weakness and causing the loss of Jewish soldiers’ lives. The ones condemning any changes in their self-appointment of judges are from the leftist parties who will not allow changes, as this will break their power. Justice Bork in the U.S. has called the Israeli supreme court the most draconian and the worst in the democratic world.

  5. The Israeli left has lost all concept of democracy in its literal sense. To these upside down thinkers – anything legislative that smacks of moral decency is a threat against democracy.

  6. The Supreme Court in Israel is the most undemocratic body in an officially Democratic country. And it makes decisions which are based on a minority approach. It’s hilarious to see these politians crying as if it’s the Beis Hamikdush that’s under attack. It’s know in Israel that politicians that keep nothing as far as religion is concerned. Hold this judicial body to be holy and untouchable. It might be advisable to have a judicial body to have its say and protect minorities. But this Supreme court has gone way beyond it’s call. Nobody minded because it was the leftist being kept happy.