The Israeli Law Professors’ Forum for Democracy, an ad-hoc and voluntary group of experts on Israeli law, and specifically Israeli public law, expresses its grave concern due to the unprecedented attack on the rule of law and democracy in Israel, following the intention of Israel’s 37th Government to undermine the independence of the judiciary and to significantly diminish the role of the Attorney General and government legal advisors as gatekeepers.
Specifically, the Forum warns against the proposed amendment to ‘Basic Law: The Government’, presented by the Chair of the Knesset’s “Constitution, Law, and Justice” Committee.
The proposed legislation revokes the status of the Attorney General and government legal advisors as the authorized interpreters of the law for public authorities, makes the status of their legal opinions non-binding, and allows state officials broad access to private legal advice and representation before courts at will. These changes will enable the government and its ministers to exercise their powers in violation of the law, and may foster governmental corruption and endanger social and economic stability.
The gatekeeping role of professional and independent legal advisors has traditionally enabled Israeli courts to minimize their interference in governmental decision-making, and has provided international credibility to the actions of the State of Israel. The proposed legislation will eradicate both important advantages. It will enable the government to act in complete disregard of a determination by government legal advisors that a governmental action is illegal, placing the government above the law.
The Forum’s opinion, expressed in our full position paper, constitutes our urgent reaction to an agenda presented by the “Constitution, Law, and Justice” Committee Chair, an agenda which according to Israel’s Legal advisor to the Knesset, was misleadingly presented as an official bill, although it was drafted without the involvement of the Committee’s legal advisory team, in stark contrast to accepted legislative practice. Although we strongly protest the flawed procedure through which the proposal is being advanced, we present in the paper our position addressing its content. We further stress that this specific proposal is but one component of a host of far-reaching constitutional and legal changes which we understand as an intentional attack on Israel’s democratic character and on the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court, aimed at concentrating unlimited power in the hands of the majority. We vehemently oppose these processes, and our position paper should be understood accordingly.
A detailed position paper in Hebrew is available on our website.