Global News/Middle East-WestIsrael

Crisis in Israel – political or spiritual?

Supreme Court to lose some powers


January 17-

Israel’s new government, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, has hit the ground running. Last week, it announced reforms that will alter the existing relationship between the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The planned reforms announced by Minister of Justice Yariv Levin include measures that will significantly limit the power of the Israeli High Court. This reflects the view of many in Israel that the court – an unelected body of jurists – has, over recent decades, assumed too much power.

Key aspects of the proposals will –

  • allow the governing coalition to “override” Supreme Court rulings by a simple majority of 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset; the overriding legislation could only be struck down by unanimous ruling of all 15 justices;
  • end the Supreme Court’s ability to revoke administrative decisions by the government on the grounds of “reasonability”;
  • require a “special majority” in an expanded bench of justices to strike down laws and/or decisions deemed to contradict Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws;
  • enable government ministers to install political appointees as legal advisers in their ministries; and
  • give the government a greater say in the appointment of judges.

It is important to note that Israel does not have a written constitution. It only has one house of Parliament (Knesset); there is no upper chamber. The coalition of parties that forms the majority in the Knesset also forms the government (executive). The president has very limited powers. Thus, there are (compared with some other democracies) relatively few inherent checks and balances on the power of the Knesset and government. Many feel that the judiciary’s wide powers promote democracy by providing an essential rein on the risk of abuse of power by the executive. Others feel the court has infringed democracy by enabling a college of unelected judges, on the basis of subjective views, to strike down laws and measures passed by the elected legislature and government.

The government thus says the reforms will “restore” Israel’s democracy, while its critics assert that the proposed reforms will destroy democracy in Israel, paving the way for a “democratic dictatorship”.

These proposals have led to a political crisis. There have been violent demonstrations. Opposition leaders have accused the government of treason. Opposition Leader Yair Lapid vowed to wage “a war over our home,” while Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister until two weeks ago, warned that the judicial overhaul could lead to “civil war” and urged the public to lawfully take to the streets, declaring: “It’s time to go out en masse and demonstrate; it’s time to make the country tremble.”

These are disturbing scenes. One suspects they will be only too happily misused by those who are already intent on destroying Israel’s credibility and international standing.

There is something paradoxical about Israel, that perhaps many in the land do not appreciate. God is restoring His people to the land for a specific purpose: in order to live in unity, in accordance with His law, under His authority – as a witness to the nations of God’s sovereignty and love for the whole world.

Seen from a spiritual perspective, the essential question is thus not how wide the judiciary’s powers are, or whether the government has too much power. No institution, person or system will ever be perfect. The core issue is one of the heart. It is whether the people – as a whole, together – Jews and non-Jews – are genuinely seeking to live in unity, serving the God who is bringing the Jewish people home. This is the spiritual crisis facing the people of Israel.

Therefore, let us, as non-Jewish Christians outside the land of Israel, refrain from becoming embroiled in Israel’s political crisis. Instead, let us hope and pray that, in the coming days and weeks, Israel’s people and political leaders will put aside personal and even political differences, and seek the common good of the nation, living in accordance with God’s laws.

As crisis after crisis engulfs the earth, the other nations of the world desperately need Israel to play the leadership role for which it was established, and to which it is called.

Courtesy: The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today :


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