J Street welcomes the Israeli Supreme Court’s January 1 decision protecting Israel’s democratic foundations and striking down a central part of the Netanyahu government’s attempted anti-democratic judicial overhaul. This 8-7 decision is a critical victory for democracy, the rule of law and for millions across Israel and around the world who have protested for months against the Netanyahu government’s anti-democratic judicial “reforms.”
The decision reverses an attempt by the Netanyahu coalition to restrict courts from reviewing and overturning government actions on the grounds that they are “extremely unreasonable” by a legal standard – a key check on power in a democracy with no written constitution and only one chamber of parliament.
In this critical moment for Israel’s democracy and its security, we urge Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his government to clearly express their respect for the court’s decision and intention to abide by its ruling.
Recent comments from senior members of the government hinting otherwise are deeply concerning. Such rhetoric undermines Israel’s democracy and risks triggering a constitutional crisis in a moment where Israelis face significant security challenges on multiple fronts.
J Street continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel’s pro-democracy movement. For months, we’ve joined with pro-democracy, pro-Israel groups in the United States to rally support for Israel’s democracy and opposition to these reforms.
J Street spearheaded support for the Israel Democracy Resolution in the House of Representatives, stating that “Congress stands with all Israelis seeking to defend liberal democracy, judicial review, and independent political institutions acting in a system of checks and balances.”
When the Netanyahu government pushed these reforms through earlier this year – with a narrow margin and in the face of historic opposition – we warned that they sought a free hand to undermine Israel’s secular, pluralist values and pursue their narrower vision of a more religious and nationalist state without fear of judicial oversight.
Without this safeguard, their extreme-right agenda would proceed further in efforts to restrict the rights of women, non-Orthodox Jews, LGBT+ people and Palestinians (both Israeli citizens and those in the Occupied Territory) – with significant ramifications for the settlement movement’s continuing efforts to permanently settle and annex occupied territory.
While this ruling marks a significant victory for all those who care about a just, democratic and pluralistic homeland for the Jewish people, continued vigilance and advocacy to protect Israel’s democratic foundations will be essential as the Israeli right continues to pursue its narrow, anti-democratic, one-state vision for Israel’s future.