Netanyahu Is Destroying Israeli Democracy

By Shlomo Maital

   Our perennial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to state a bald faced lie – that the elimination of judicial review of legislation and political appointment of judges will strengthen Israeli democracy. 

    Let’s ask an expert.  In his 2019 book, Checks and Balances, the Override Clause and Its Effect on the Three Branches of Govt.,  Prof. Amichai Cohen notes that true democracy has several key structural checks on political power.   If Israel introduces the Override Clause (enabling the legislature to override judicial review), it will be the only country out of 67 [democracies] reviewed in the book that has none of the six common structural restrictions, along with judicial review.  It will be Israel without checks or balances.

   The ONLY country. 

    The six structural checks and balances are:  a bicameral legislature (e.g. House and Senate); a President with executive powers; a federal government; regional elections; membership in a supra-governmental organization; and acceptance of the International Court of Justice’s authority.

    Only five other countries along with Israel lack a written constitution:  Britain, New Zealand, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia.  Britain and New Zealand each have huge bodies of common law that serve as a constitution.  Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia?  ‘nuf said. 

    As of now, Israel is barely a democracy.  When the Netanyahu coalition tosses judicial review out the window, and politicizes appointment of judges, no reasonable person will call us a democracy, with a straight face.

    Except Netanyahu. 

    In a democracy, power is widely distributed.  In Israel political power is concentrated in the hands of a very few people,  most of whom are fanatical and extreme. 

     It will be fixed.  But not before massive damage is done. 

  • Based on Michael Starr, “Israel already at minimum checks and balances”. Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2023, p. 3.