More than half of Israelis against proposed High Court override clause -survey

For the first time since mid-2019, Israelis expressed more optimism toward the future of democratic rule in Israel than about the future of Israel’s national security.

 THE INAUGURATION of the new Knesset takes place in the plenum last week. Israel’s exemplary democracy is strong, says the writer (photo credit: OLIVER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
THE INAUGURATION of the new Knesset takes place in the plenum last week. Israel’s exemplary democracy is strong, says the writer
(photo credit: OLIVER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The majority of Israelis think that the High Court of Justice should maintain its right to veto Knesset legislation it deems contradictory to the nation's Basic Laws, according to an Israeli Voice Index survey taken in late November and published on Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI). 

The IDI is an independent research organization that aims to strengthen the foundations of Israeli society, according to its website. 

2022 Knesset elections 

The IDI found that 52% of Israelis - 49% of Jews and 68% of Arabs - are not satisfied with the results of the most recent Knesset elections. Religiosity and political orientation, which themselves have been shown to be closely correlated, were directly associated with the degree of satisfaction with election results: 

The IDI's analysis of these results showed that a majority of Jewish Israelis with below-average incomes were satisfied with the election results. This percentage fell to about half when applied to those with average incomes, and approximately one-third of those with above-average incomes. The below graphic also draws comparisons between political alignment, religiosity and income, showing distinct trends across all three.  

 Satisfied with the results of the recent elections (Jews, by religiosity, political orientation, and income; %) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE) Satisfied with the results of the recent elections (Jews, by religiosity, political orientation, and income; %) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE)

Harmful legislation and terror attacks 

44% of Israelis (41% of Jews and 58% of Arabs) predict that the Knesset will soon pass a law that will harm Israeli citizens' basic human rights. This may explain why a majority of respondents, 54%, were of the belief that the Israeli High Court be able to throw out laws passed in Knesset that they deem to conflict with the Basic Laws of the State of Israel.  

What is more, 66% of Israelis (65% of Jews and 68.5% of Arabs) are actively worried that they or their loved ones could be hurt in a terrorist attack while going about their normal day-to-day lives.

Women reported higher rates of anxiety about this issue than men across demographics. Jewish men and women had a particular disparity on this count, with a difference of approximately twenty percentage points between them. 

In a possibly surprising turn, the lowest overall levels of worry about terror attacks came from residents of Jerusalem, despite the relatively large number of recent attacks there. 

Optimism on the rise?

For the first time since mid-2019, Israelis expressed more optimism toward the future of democratic rule in Israel than about the future of Israel’s national security. Still, optimists were the minority overall on both counts. 

Jews, on the whole, were more optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy than Arabs. And among Jews, those who hold right-wing views reported significantly more optimism than those on the Left and Center. Specifically, about two-thirds of right-wing interviewees felt hopeful about the future of democratic rule, while only about one-eighth of those on the Left and one-quarter of those in the Center expressed optimism on that front.  

Specific issues relevant to coalition negotiations

All the following proposals, which are crucial pieces of the current coalition negotiations being conducted by incumbent Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, do not have the support of the majority of Israelis:

  • Override Clause and the High Court – 54% of Israelis think that the High Court should retain the power to strike down legislation that contravene Basic Laws.
    Support for various legislative proposals made during the coalition negotiations (total sample; %) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE)Support for various legislative proposals made during the coalition negotiations (total sample; %) (credit: ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE)
  • Reform Conversion and the Law of Return – Less than a third (32%) of Jewish Israelis support canceling the recognition of Reform conversions for the purposes of the Law of Return.
  • Grandchild Clause and the Law of Return – 29% of Israelis support canceling the “grandchild clause” in the Law of Return and placing restrictions on the eligibility of Jews and their children to immigrate to Israel while 48% oppose, and 23% don’t know.
  • Kashrut Reforms – 29% of Jewish Israelis support canceling the reform to privatize kashrut services, 49.5% oppose canceling, and 22.5% don’t know. Among the ultra-Orthodox Jews, there is a majority (72%) in support of this. Outside of that demographic, the support is less enthusiastic. 43% among national religious, 39% among traditional-religious, 20% among traditional-non-religious and 16% among seculars.
  • Legalizing Settlements – 36% of Israelis support granting legal status to unauthorized settlements in the West Bank. This breaks down into 41% of Jews and 11% of Arabs in favor.
  • Men and Women at Public Events – 28% of Israelis support the idea that separation between men and women at public events, in education and when seeking public services should not be considered discrimination under the law.
  • Kollel students – 24% of Israelis support increasing payments to Kollel students.

The survey was conducted online and by telephone (to include groups that have limited access to the internet) between November 28 and December 1, 2022. It included 600 men and women who were interviewed in Hebrew and 147 in Arabic, which constitutes a nationally representative sample of Israel's adult population. The maximum sampling error, according to the IDI, was ±3.59% at a confidence level of 95%. Fieldwork was carried out by Midgam Research and Consulting Ltd.