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 over the apparent intention to abolish the independence of the judiciary, to subordinate it to the government and to the partisan political considerations of the executive branch, to undermine the independent status of the attorney general and civil service legal counsels, and to violate human rights. In this paper we examine the considerations and principles relating to public service in times of constitutional crisis.
We hold that:
● At a time of constitutional crisis two different branches of government claim to have the power to determine fundamental arrangements in the state. In such a situation, public servants do not know whose instructions to follow.
● The decision whose instructions to follow relies, in our view, on two types of considerations: One, an evaluation of who is authorized to determine the law; the other, the obligation to provide equal and optimal service to the state’s population.
● The manner in which public servants act in circumstances of constitutional crisis depends, inter alia, on whether their conduct directly affects the democratic rules of the game, on the institution in which they operate, on their rank within the institution and on the avenues of action available to them. As a rule, public servants should follow the instructions of the Attorney-General and of the Supreme Court. However, this rule might change if conditions change, and in particular if the independence of the Attorney-General or of the Supreme Court is undermined.