(December 6, 2022 / JNS) Israel’s incoming government is not just another right-wing coalition. For many reasons, it is expected to be a revolutionary government, and not because of policies towards the LGBT community, as the Israeli media claims. Nothing meaningful will change on that issue.
Nevertheless, the government will almost certainly be like no other.
First and foremost, the checks and balances between the three branches of government will be reformed. Israel’s lack of a constitution, as well as the relative weakness of the Knesset and the government, have allowed the judiciary to accumulate excessive power. For example, government legal advisers can overturn legitimate policies set by ministers, and the Supreme Court and even lower courts can block government decisions even though they have never been granted this power.
Such judicial activism has been criticized by many jurists for a very long time. Former Supreme Court President Moshe Landau warned that it would damage the courts’ standing with the Israeli public, and polls show that this is indeed the case. American jurists Robert Bork and Richard Posner went further, saying that former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, the father of Israeli judicial activism, “sets a world record in judicial hubris.”
The new coalition will undertake reforms to solve this problem. They will go through normal Knesset procedures, with public debates, free discussion and the support of many left-wing public figures like former Labor Minister Haim Ramon, law professor Daniel Friedman and others. This will not weaken democracy. It will do the opposite, restoring the Israeli people’s trust in their democratic institutions.
The other major area of reform is Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria. For decades, Israel’s policies regarding the conflict in the disputed territories has failed. The Palestinian Authority has turned out to be a corrupt dictatorship with no elections or effective parliament. Palestinian terror attacks and attempted attacks are occurring every few hours. There are clashes between Jewish and Arab civilians on a weekly basis. The economy, construction, transportation and other infrastructure issues have been handled inappropriately. No one foresees a long-term political solution. As a senior American official asked me, “So what do you suggest for the coming 55 years?”
In order to minimize this chaos, the new government will change the way it administers the disputed territories. In particular, it will take the “civil administration,” which controls the day-to-day life of Palestinians and Israelis alike, out of the hands of the IDF and place it under a new ministry. If this is done correctly, it will improve many aspects of daily life in Judea and Samaria. This policy should be supported by all who oppose military control of civilians and ought to have been enacted many years ago.
Additional reforms relate to law enforcement, fighting crime and restoring security across the country. The departing government took preliminary action on these issues, but there is much more to be done.
The same is true regarding extreme nationalist elements in Israeli-Arab society. For reasons of political correctness, the mainstream media is silent on this threat, but behind the scenes the entire national security establishment is very worried. Empowering and bolstering the police and law enforcement authorities should be on the way as well.
Netanyahu’s sixth government will likely last its entire four-year term. The coalition parties have largely the same agenda and desire for stability. That stability, in and of itself, has caused the opposition to use very harsh language in an effort to delegitimize the coming reforms. But in Israeli politics the rule is to shout, especially when your talking points are weak.
Ariel Kahana is Israel Hayom’s senior diplomatic commentator.
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