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26 Teves, 5783 - January 19, 2023 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Kohelet Policy Forum: At the Center of Controversy

by Mordechai Lebel

Anti-government demonstrations: The sign says, `We did not set up a State for This!'

In a talk with Yated Ne'eman, Dr. Aviad Bakshi, head of the legal department of Kohelet Policy Forum and the one who will help the Justice Minister in formulating a judicial revolution, surprises us by downplaying the possibility, which is being parried about these days, about foregoing part of the dramatic reform through negotiations with the Israeli Left and the judicial system.

"At the beginning a moderate and balanced path was suggested. Minister Levine was not for aiming for the whole parcel in order to settle for half of it but instead started out with the "half" program that we really want. This brings us to consider the final result about the authority of the court to disqualify laws and we will not back down about the restrictions placed on it: only for regular laws, and only for a super majority of judges while still allowing for the possibility of Knesset override. We also intend to remove the ability of the Court to apply its own standard of "reasonability." This also includes altering the method of appointing judges and finally determining that the opinion of the legal advisor (yo'etz mishpati) is not binding on the government. All these are necessary elements.

In the end, this is certainly a balanced approach, leaving more radical ideas outside. But we must insist that it will be approved in its entirety.

When he was asked about the proposal to deny the court the right to disqualify laws, Bakshi explains, "I certainly understand those who are all for this approach which is recognized in England, certainly in view of the fact that Israel does not have a constitution and that the legislative revolution (of Aharon Barak) was unjustifiably used. Nevertheless, I believe that it is correct for us to have checks and balances over the legality of laws.

"After the court shall do this and be composed in a well-adjusted way, it will reflect the will of the majority of the people, which will be executed under the conditions outlined in the program. This is so that there shall be some form of brake against hasty and nasty legislation, also including a logical compromise regarding the other side. We do not want to force malicious control of obliterating a system that was in effect but offer a march forward towards regulation."

The man of the Kohelet Forum considers the change in the policy whereby legal advisors are chosen as compared to the question of the status of the legal opinion which they maintain.

"The situation in which the view of the advisors obligates the government as a kind of court, or as a regulator which obligates the government to accept this opinion without any supportive ruling. This is all very problematic and it should be remedied first and foremost. Also important is changing the method of appointing legal advisors to fulfill their true vocation, which is to aid the government.

"But most urgent and important of all is to abolish the status of their opinion so that it be no longer binding. Thus will the absurd situation where a legal advisor, through the department of the high courts, forces his stand on the government and the latter is presented on behalf of the state before the high court.

"In general, we at the Forum feel that there is room for a legal advisor to the government and the high court, except that in this past generation, they have lost their equilibrium. There is an over-legalism in Israeli society where legal decisions which should be made through dialogue and after democratic conclusions, work more and more as binary decisions by the courts, without any accepted norm which the public determined through legislation. In our eyes, it is not proper or accepted that a court should alter, and certainly not through the excuse of any principle of reasonableness, the judgment of the government. Therefore, it is imperative to change this state of affairs."

If Kohelet Forum can check off the issues of influence within legislation and economy, at least partially since the final approval of the dramatic steps are yet before us. Their voice on these subjects will probably be heard even in the Academy.

One other area remains to be tackled: the domination of the Left over most of the channels of general communications. "We have proposals to deal with this as well," says Dr. Aviad Bakshi, "but we have not yet formulated a definite policy. That's why it is still too early to talk about it, but it is certainly a subject which concerns us."

Another area, it is interesting to discover, remains outside the dealings of the Forum, even though it occupies the political system, even these days.

"We did not get involved in issues of state-and-religion. We ourselves differ in opinion in these areas and steered away from them. We are focusing on our future as a Jewish people in this land. The proposed changes in the Law of Nationality are moving towards this, and its purpose is to see that it remains a Jewish state for all time," Bakshi, top official of Forum, sums up, and sees that more and more of his positions are becoming official in this 37th government.


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