The Israel Democracy Institute to heads of the coalition and cabinet ministers: The bill to obliterate the Supreme Court's ability to disqualify Knesset candidates is reminiscent of the Council of Guardians of Iran
Following the advancement of an amendment to a Basic Law on the issue of removing the authority of the Supreme Court to intervene in decisions of the Central Elections Committee to cancel candidates or lists from participating in elections, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) sent out a sharply worded policy paper opposing this proposal.
Following the advancement of an amendment on Sunday, Nov. 22, to a Basic Law on the issue of removing the authority of the Supreme Court to intervene in decisions of the Central Elections Committee to cancel candidates or lists from participating in elections, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) sent out a sharply worded policy paper opposing this proposal. In the policy paper, Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs explain that if the proposal is passed then the Central Elections Committee, which is a political body, will have sole authority – without oversight – to disqualify candidates and lists from being elected to Knesset. According to Fuchs and Kremnitzer, this would severely harm the basic rights in a democratic state to elect and be elected to the Knesset. The writers say the amendment is reminiscent of the Council of Guardians of Iran, which has similar authority.
Further, Kremnitzer and Fuchs add that this is an extraordinary proposal because if it were to pass, it would make the Central Elections Committee the only administrative body in Israel that is immune to any oversight or appeal of its decisions – despite its being a body that is in charge of sensitive and critical responsibilities to our democracy. The writers say that the current law (clause 7a) contains an unclear expression: "…ruling out the existence of Israel as a Jewish-democratic state."
Broadly, this expression could be harnessed to disqualify – if there is the political will to do so – candidates from many sectors, including members of the Knesset from the extreme right or ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset who openly rule out (or appear to rule out) the existence of Israel as a democracy and try instead to pass laws in the spirit of our religion. Therefore, this is a proposal for which it is impossible to say how it will be used in the future toward any and many sectors of Israeli society.
According to the policy paper:
"The current authority given in the law has enabled the Supreme Court to save Israeli politics from itself. It has prevented the unjustifiable disqualification of Arab lists and candidates. The removal of Arab members of Knesset will change Israel into a democracy for Jews alone and could lead to illegal struggles by Israel's minorities. … The proposal attacks the authority of the Supreme Court, which is the primary defender of Israel's democratic values. The amendment should be fought against because it would cause grave harm to the democratic nature of the State of Israel."