Hundreds More Israeli Academics Share Support for Judicial Overhaul3 min read
300 more academics in Israel signed a letter of support for the judicial overhaul plans of the government.
Last week, a declaration had been signed by 120 academics associated with Professors for a Strong Israel, a right-wing organization.
The letter from the academic community was the first statement of support on a large-scale for the controversial package.
The professors asserted in the letter that the legal reforms were required because of the constitutional revolution that Prof. Aharon Bank, the former Supreme Court president, had initiated.
They said that the balance between the different government branches in the country had been violated due to the revolution.
However, they also asserted that a process of dialogue should happen before the reforms are enacted and the government should aim for broad agreement.
They said that establishing dialogue and seeking broad agreement would be good, but repairing the legal system is also essential.
The letter received 400 signatories by Friday who were in support of the judicial overhaul. Two pieces of legislation are currently being advanced in the Knesset by the government.
These are aimed at overhauling the judiciary by giving the coalition and the government complete control over the selection of judges.
They would also eliminate the authority of the High Court of Justice to strike down any legislation that goes against the Basic Laws.
There were some prominent people who signed the letter in support of the judicial overhaul plan. This included a Nobel laureate from Hebrew University, Professor Yisrael Aumann.
Ariel University’s Talia Eihorn, who is a legal scholar, also signed, as did organic chemistry scholar and Bar Ilan University rector Prof. Amnon Albeck.
Professor of medicine and former MK of the Otzma LeYisrael party Aryeh Eldad and physicist and former Bar Ilan University rector Prof. Yosef Yeshurun were also the signatories.
The judicial reform legislation is being prepared in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset and Aumann recently spoke there in support of the changes proposed.
However, he had said at the time that he was not in favor of allowing the Knesset to use votes of 61 MKs for preventing judicial review of any legislation.
Those in support of the overhaul, including Justice Minister Yariv Levin, have argued that the Basic Law passed in 1992 for Human Dignity and Liberty and the use of the law by Barak for exercising judicial review was a power grab.
According to them, it had given the judiciary undue influence over the Knesset as well as the majority. But, this view is not shared by everyone.
A number of legal professionals and former jurists, which include the former attorney general and numerous Supreme Court justices, have labeled the legal reforms as extreme.
A host of professionals and legal scholars have stated that the reforms would take away all the checks on the legislative power of the government.
There has also been a great deal of public criticism against the overhaul plans and there have been mass protests all over Israel.