As the dust settled on Monday’s legislative session, the recent discourse surrounding Israel’s proposed ‘Reasonableness Standard’ Bill, an amendment to the Basic Law: The Judiciary (Amendment No. 4), remains as spirited as ever. The bill passed unanimously with a 64-0 vote, leaving some observers perplexed as all opposition members chose to abstain.
Israeli Minister of Justice, MK Yariv Levin, shared some insights into the legislative process, highlighting an intriguing study commissioned by MK Gilad Kariv to examine international examples of the ‘reasonableness standard.’ To Levin’s surprise, this research went largely unnoticed by media outlets. The study confirmed that no country has adopted a wholesale reasonableness standard that substitutes the discretion of the judiciary for elected officials.
Levin argued passionately about the nebulous nature of reasonableness. He stressed that its definition is inherently subjective, relying more on worldviews than legal principles. He posed philosophical questions: What makes a decision reasonable or unreasonable? What criteria are used to judge its reasonableness?
Addressing those concerned about the amendment, Levin reassured that the intention is not to abolish the reasonableness standard, but to reduce its use so that it doesn’t overshadow the democratic choice of the people. He stated, “If the Government or a minister act illegally, without authority, in conflict of interest, in an improper procedure—in all these cases the court can and will be able to intervene.”
Leader of the Opposition, MK Yair Lapid, countered with a stark warning about the bill’s potential consequences. Despite being open to negotiations and compromises, Lapid voiced his fears about the proposed law’s potentially divisive effect on Israeli society and the possible harm to the Supreme Court’s standing.
He cautioned, “If you vote in favor of this legislation, you are hastening the end of the nation, you are harming the State of Israel’s security.” He urged the sane minds in the coalition to reconsider their stance, stating that approving this bill would amount to forfeiting their claim to Israeli patriotism.
This legislative tussle reflects the robust democratic nature of the State of Israel, a place where passionate debates and rigorous legal scrutiny are welcome. It also underscores Israel’s commitment to maintaining a balance between respect for the judiciary’s authority and the public’s democratic will.
In the end, this commitment to dialogue and democratic principles strengthens Israel’s social fabric. It showcases the country’s commitment to considering multiple viewpoints, navigating complex legal and ethical landscapes, and always striving to find a balanced solution.
So, let this discourse remind us all of the strength and resilience of Israeli democracy. No matter the bill, no matter the debate, Israel stands as a testament to the democratic values we cherish.