Various news networks around the world, such as CNN and The Wall Street Journal have reported the controversial decision taken by the Israeli parliament – the Knesset, which imposes a limitation on the Israeli Supreme Court. This decision was very controversial, with some seeing it as an attack to democracy, and others as a defense.
The Supreme Court of Israel is actually the Supreme Court of Jerusalem, consisting of 15 judges and 2 clerks. Leading the Supreme Court is the figure of the chief justice, Ester Hayut. Israeli positive law provides that a rule decided by the Supreme Court is mandatory for all other courts, with the incidence of a binding principle, except for the Supreme Court itself, which may differ from its previous decisions in future judgments.
The Supreme Court of Israel plays two important roles in deciding existing legal disputes in the State of Israel, acting as (i) Appellate court and (ii) High Court of Justice. Below it, there are the District courts and, below these, the Magistrate Courts, such as family courts, juvenile courts and so on. Do note that trials involving Israeli officials are limited to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Israel.
The Courts on Israel act, among other duties, to supervise and ensure the normality of the rule of law and individual rights. However, as in other countries, there is concern about the separation of powers and the potential interference of the judiciary branch in decisions of the executive branch.
The fact is that the Israeli parliament passed a controversial “reasonableness” bill, by 64 votes to 0. Despite seeming a unanimous approval, it did not happen that way. The 64 votes were all from the government coalition, which voted in favor; whilst members of the opposition left the site before the start of the vote, already predicting the victory of the ruling coalition.
Indeed, the approval of this bill removes the power to declare a government decision as unreasonable from the Supreme Court of Israel.
This was considered the biggest change ever imposed on the country's courts and came under a wide range of criticism, especially from opposition leaders.
In any case, even more drastic impacts may arise if an especially controversial measure is approved, that is, the possibility of the legislative branch to overturn the decisions taken by the country’s Supreme Court. Until the moment of writing this article, this was not approved.