Thursday, August 10, 2023

Timeline of the Crisis

Taking an idea from Yishai Friedman of Shvi'i, here is a contribution to understanding how we in Israel got to where we are in the summer of 2023:


1980 Aharon Barak, appointed as a Supreme Court Justice in 1978, employs for the first time the Reasonableness Standard that would justify a governmental institution decision

1986 Ressler case and Barak devoted twenty-five pages to the issue of justiciability and delineated two classic categories of justiciability, normative and institutional. By doing away with institutional non-justiciability, Barak challenges the common conception of the separation of powers.

1992 In March, the Knesset passes two basic laws aimed at protecting human rights: Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Both those basic laws contain a “limitation clause”: “One is not to violate the rights in accordance to this Basic Law save by means of a law that corresponds to the values of the state of Israel”. Pre-1992 legislation was shielded from constitutionality review.  Criticism maintained that the 1992 basic laws did not really authorize the Court to strike down legislation as this was allegedly not the legislative intent and because the laws were adopted were not sufficient to afford them with constitutional status superior to ordinary legislation. (For instance, Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty was supported by 32 members of the Knesset, and 21 members opposed it—most members did not vote. Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation was adopted by 21 members without opposition.) Moreover, the review involves value judgments and those should be decided by democratically elected representatives and not unaccountable judges.

1995 Barak, then president of the Supreme Court, announced that a constitutional revolution, a phrase he coined, was taking place in Israel based on his own interpretation of the Basic Laws enacted by the Knesset in 1992 as having the force of a constitution. Since then the Supreme Court has struck down 22 laws that were enacted by the Knesset. It intervened in decisions of the Israeli security agencies and even invalidated administrative decisions of the Israeli government and its ministers.  All this was done without any legal basis; that is, without the consent of the Knesset, which is solely invested with the power to draft and adopt a constitution.

November 9, 1995 the landmark case United Mizrahi Bank v. Migdal when the Supreme Court declared that basic laws are superior to regular laws and declared it may strike down Knesset statutes that are incompatible with the terms of the limitation clauses in the two basic laws from 1992. It would do so based on an evaluation process consisting of three main stages: if there is an infringement of a constitutionally protected right with an expansive interpretation of constitutional rights necessary for a dignified existence. If a protected right has been infringed, the second stage is whether the infringement was grounded in legislation that corresponds to the values of the state of Israel (defined in the two basic laws from 1992 as Jewish and Democratic) and serves an appropriate purpose. The third stage is the “proportionality” stage, i.e., if the harm to constitutional rights does not outweigh the social gains achieved by the reviewed law. If the harm clearly exceeds the gains, the law will be invalidated.

February 14, 1999 an estimated 350,000 Haredi demonstrators called on the justices not to interfere in matters of religion.

2015 Elections. Seven months later, investigation of Gidi Wetz on Netanyahu's influence on Walla! News site. It will develop into Case 4000 (see below). In August, demonstrations against the gas deal led by Orly Bar-Lev, Gonen Ben-Yitzhak and others.

2016 Police open investigations into Case 1000 (benefits from Milchen and Parker); Case 2000 (Netanyahu and Noni Mozes of Yedioth Ahronot); and Case 3000 (the submarine affair). Attorney-General Avicahi Mandleblit was under pressure of weekly demos at his Petah Tikva house to authorize, as per law, investigations of a sitting Prime Minister.

June 2017 Case 4000 (Eluvitz and Netanyahu charged for favorable financial terms for Bezeq purchase, in essence, bribery). Later that year, the "Balfour Protest" erupts. August Ari Harow turns state's witness after incarceration. September Supreme Court annuls, again, amended Mobilization Law.

2018 Shlomo Filber, former Director-General of the Telecommunications Ministry turns state's witness after incarceration. Avigdor Lieberman leaves the coalition. Yair Lapid refuses to vote for an additional Mobilization Law.

2019 April – Knesset elections. September – second round of elections. November 21 – Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit charges Netanyahu with behavior of briberyfraud, and breach of trust.

2020 – March – elections for 23rd Knesset. Unity government formed. "Black Flags" demonstrations begin led by siblings Yarden, Shikma (Bressler) and Eyal Schwartzman.

October - Amit Segal leaks tape of Attorney-General Mandelblit implying he was being blackmailed to tailor a case against Netanyahu thus feeding supporting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the attorney general had been blackmailed by the State Attorney Shai Nitzan. Government fails to pass the budget, Netanyahu rather than passing premiership to Gantz calls for elections.

2021 – March 23 elections held but only in late May was a coalition formed when Netanyahu failed and then Bennett's Yamina joined with Bennett, with 6 seats, becoming first of a new prime minister rotation agreement. In May, Arab-Jewish mixed-city riots broke out. Black Flags demos halt whereas rightwing demonstrators pressure Yamina MKs.

2022 – April 6 MK Idit Silman resigns leading to elections which took place on November 1, the fifth round in four years. According to the rotation agreement, upon the dissolution of the Knesset, Yair Lapid became Prime Minister on July 1. The new coalition was represented by 64 MKs. In December, opponents of the new coalition began to meet to plan grassroots campaign of demonstrations.

2023 – January 3 – Yariv Levin, Justice Minister, announces elements of a judicial reform legislation. January 14 – protests begin.