Overnight the Israeli government forced through their repeal of the "reasonableness clause".
The clause, which allowed the Supreme Court to challenge unreasonable decisions by the government and officials, has been overturned. As our colleague David Davidi-Brown, executive director of NIF UK said overnight: It is not a right-wing attack on a left-wing policy, it is a shameless removal of checks and balances by a coalition whose supporters chant “theocracy not democracy.”
Yesterday, despite twenty-nine weeks of mass protest, strikes, marches, and acts of civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Israelis — and despite the warnings of countless countries from Australia to its European allies to the United States — Netanyahu’s settler-led government passed a key piece of legislation to weaken the judiciary, the only real check on the government’s power. In doing so, it has weakened Israel’s democracy, economy, security, and global standing.
We will continue to support human rights organisations like the Association for Civil Rights in Israel because they will not give up this fight. This morning, we woke up to an email from their executive director, Rabbi Noa Sattah who advised -- “we have already sent initial legal correspondences to the Attorney General before submitting a legal petition against the Reasonableness Clause, and we will push relentlessly to protect and strengthen our democratic institutions.”
We cannot, for a moment, forget that Netanyahu himself is on trial, indicted on charges of corruption, and that he has proven himself willing to sacrifice the democratic institutions of the State of Israel to save his own skin.
We cannot forget that this all stems from the Prime Minister’s political instinct to save himself and his allies, ahead of the people he is supposed to represent. One of the reasons that Netanyahu has pressed ahead with this reckless decision is because the reasonableness clause was originally used to strike down one of his appointments to his ministry, Aryeh Deri, who had been tried and convicted on corruption charges and tax fraud.
That is why for six long months, the Israeli government pressed ahead with its far-right agenda, focusing on undermining democracy, instead of advancing human and civil rights for all.
Israel's erosion of democracy has not taken place overnight, it has been subjected to deliberate and consistent attacks to such a degree that it now comprises:
- A military occupation entering its fifty-seventh year that has denied millions their basic rights
- The Nation-State Law
- A National Guard overseen by a convicted terrorist
- Unchecked settlement expansion, including representation at the highest levels of government by members of the settler community
All this might seem insurmountable at this moment.
Indeed, it is natural to feel despair at a time like this. But as Naomi Chazan said only a few months ago when visiting Australia, “despair is not a strategy”.
We at the New Israel Fund know that this is not the beginning, nor is the end of the fight for a better future for all. But the work that we do — to support what is now perhaps the strongest pillar of democracy in Israel, civil society — is so clearly needed now more than ever.
We will never back down.