The judicial overhaul plan that the Knesset is slated to initially approve Monday won’t harm Israeli security or its alliance with the United States, according to National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.
“The purpose is to bring more balance to the [different] branches [of government] so I do not think it will create any problem,” Hanegbi said in an interview with Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz.
Hanegbi threw his support behind the plan which opponents have warned could weaken Israel’s democracy. Western allies including French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have expressed their concern.
A need for a judicial overhaul plan
Hanegbi said that he believed there was a need for a judicial overhaul plan, noting that during his 32 years as both a minister and a member of the Knesset, he had witnessed a change in the balance of power between the different branches of government.
“The government and the Knesset gradually lost their power to the judicial branch in a way that created a lot of frustration and I think this should be fixed,” he said.
He agreed that it should be done through consensus and dialogue with the opposition.
This hasn’t happened because the opposition is still overcome with the emotion of losing the election, he said.
It does not yet understand that this will be changed, he added.
The division over the reform is profound, he said, and could affect national unity in the long run unless consensus is built around it, Hanegbi said. For that to happen, the opposition has to take a new approach, he explained. It is not effective for the opposition to only say what is wrong with the reform and not what is correct, he said.
Some of the reform in question, such as having politicians choose judges, is similar to systems in other democracies such as the United States, he said, as he referred to a conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blinken.
“The prime minister told Blinken, OK, if you have criticism over our system, maybe we will adopt the American system which is that judges are confirmed in the senate and are appointed to the supreme court by the head of the executive branch, the president,” Hanegbi said.
Under the judicial reform plan there would be safeguards attached to the Knesset’s ability to overturn Supreme Court rulings, Hanegbi said, explaining that there could be a need for a special majority or the move might only last for that parliament’s term.
The reform will be balanced and will not in any way harm the rights of women, Israeli-Arabs or the LGBTQ community, he said.
“It will bring more restraint to the supreme court. It is not going to be something that will jeopardize their independence all together,” Hanegbi said.