Right-wing Israelis gathered outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem last Thursday to protest what they called the rise of “judicial dictatorship” in the Jewish state.
On Sunday, Israel’s highest court began deliberations over whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu should be allowed to establish and lead the next government. That despite the fact that Israeli law does not prohibit an indicted politician from serving as prime minister.
More than that, the Netanyahu-led Likud won the most seats of any party in the last Knesset election, and polls have shown that the unity government deal he recently struck with “Blue and White” party head Benny Gantz is most definitely the will of the majority.
“We are no longer a democracy. We are a judicial dictatorship. There is no democracy in the world in which the Supreme Court enjoys so much power,” decried Prof. Gadi Taub of the Hebrew University at last week’s demonstration.
It’s not just about the Supreme Court entertaining the notion that it has the right to block a duly-elected politician from forming a government. Israel’s top justices have in recent decades taken it upon themselves to strike down or oppose numerous pieces of legislation that have represented the will of the people. More recently, they have ruled on matters that should be the purview of the Knesset before proper legislation could even be submitted, thereby presenting themselves as both legislators and judiciaries.
Writing for Israel’s free daily newspaper Israel Hayom, Dr. Haim Shine of the Academic Center of Law and Science said of the current situation:
“Many members of the public are convinced that the Supreme Court is trying to undermine the government – something unacceptable in a democratic regime – and force it to accept positions, values, and opinions with which most of society does not agree.
“For years, the court has tended to detach itself from worldviews that run deep in Israeli society and are anchored in the belief that we returned home after 2,000 years to establish a Jewish state, and not a state of all its citizens. It’s hard to reject the claim that the court has turned into a nexus of assistance in helping the far-left…promote a radical leftist outlook, against the will of the majority.”
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