Press Release

What is the Public’s Opinion on the Override Clause?

A special survey conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute finds: The majority of the Israeli public fears that implementation of the Override Clause by the Knesset will give unlimited power to politicians and lead to an increase in political corruption


Sunday, April 29th --- Against the backdrop of the Israeli government's new proposal to pass an Override Clause bill, which will enable the Knesset to curb the Supreme Court's power of judicial review, Justice Minister Shaked intends to put the Bill forward for a vote next week in the ministerial committee for legislation. Figures from the Israel Democracy Institute indicate that the public opposes the cessation clause and fears that the ruling will lead to government corruption
IDI's Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research conducted a survey to examine what the public's stance.

The survey found that 65% of the Israeli public believes that if the Supreme Court is denied the capacity to strike down laws enacted by the Knesset, there will be no checks on the government and it will thus have unlimited power. Moreover, 59% of the Israeli public believes that the Override Clause will increase the risk of political corruption.

When it comes to the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee, 32% of the Israeli public believes that the number of justices on the committee should be increased, 25% think that the composition of the current committee is appropriate, and only 14% believe that the number of politicians on the committee should be increased.

In regards to the Prime Minister’s motives for limiting the Supreme Court's power, 39% believe that the move is beneficial to his personal interests 28% said that passing the Override Clause is in the best interest of the Israeli state, and only 16% of the public responded that the move is beneficial to the political interests of the right-wing parties.

According to the survey, 42% of the public believes that there is a high probability that one day the Knesset will enact a law that will infringe on the basic rights of Israeli citizens. Moreover, when faced with a choice between the Knesset and the Supreme Court, the public is skeptical about which of the two institutions best defends its rights. Only 36% responded that the court is better at defending their rights, compared to 13.5% which responded that the Knesset best defends their rights.

Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute: “In Israel's democratic system, the central government is not restrained by a constitution, nor does it have a federal system or federal courts that diffuse its power. Rather, the Supreme Court is the only barrier standing before the unrestricted rule of politicians, and therefore, judicial review is an absolutely essential part of enacting new laws. This notion is reaffirmed in a divided society like ours, where the Supreme Court defends the "minority" – a term that in reality defines us all: ultra-Orthodox Jews, secular Jews, settlers, Ethiopians, Arabs, women, the working class, peripheral communities, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to maintain the independence of the only nonpartisan system designed to restrain the tremendous power entrusted in the ruling coalition. In contrast to the populist positions expressed by some of the Israeli public, the majority of Israelis understand the importance of this check on power”.

**The Survey was conducted from April 24 to April 26, 2018, among 1018 respondents, constituting a representative national sample.