Following the passage of part of the proposed judicial overhaul by Israel’s parliament, Democratic Majority for Israel President & CEO Mark Mellman and Board Co-Chairs Ann Lewis and Todd Richman released the following statement:
“Israel is a democracy. Even strong, vibrant democracies make mistakes, in a democratic way — Israel held elections, candidates ran on their manifestos and were elected, and the majority formed a government intent on enacting its platform.
“Throughout the process, hundreds of thousands of patriotic protesters made their voices heard and the opposition declared its disapproval, while citizens and businesses across Israel exercised their right to speak out, strike, and demand a change of course.
“While we believe it was a serious mistake for this government to ignore the pleading of the majority of its citizens, as well as its President, and pass this bill without significant compromise, it was done democratically. As in any democracy, including the United States, governments are empowered to make decisions however disappointing or unwise we may believe them to be.
“It should also be noted, despite some misleading headlines in the media, the law approved today in the Knesset does not prevent the Israeli Supreme Court from overturning government decisions, though it does remove one important criterion for doing so.
“This law prevents the Court from overriding the parliamentary majority based on the justices’ view that the government’s action was ‘unreasonable.’ It should be noted that the U.S., which has a dramatically different system, with a much more robust system of checks and balances, does not give our Supreme Court the ability to invalidate laws based on unreasonableness.
“After today’s decision, Israel’s Supreme Court retains the ability to strike down and overturn unjust laws and administrative decisions on other grounds.
“Indeed, Israel’s Supreme Court has already been asked to rule on the legality of the legislation passed today.
“Though this bill has been passed, it is not too late for compromise on it and other elements of the proposed judicial overhaul. We urge all parties to return immediately to negotiations under the auspices of President Herzog to agree on a widely supported set of laws that guarantee the democratic character of the Jewish state.
“We remain inspired by the hundreds of thousands of patriotic Israeli protesters continuing to fight to protect their democracy, and we know that through these difficult times, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains steadfast.”