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Israeli government, opposition representatives talk about anchoring fundamental civil rights in law

Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosts delegations from Likud, Yesh Atid and National Unity for judicial negotiations at his residence in Jerusalem, Mar. 28, 2023. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A central demand of Israel’s opposition parties, to anchor fundamental civil rights into law, was discussed by negotiation teams from Israel’s coalition government and the political opposition on Monday. 

A senior government source confirmed that the issue of fundamental civil rights was under discussion, but he could not provide further details.

“Rights that are not explicitly detailed in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty – discussions are being held on this too, discussions. What will be exactly, what will be included, no one knows, these are complicated issues,” he told the Times of Israel. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement which allegedly confirmed that such talks are underway.

“We will anchor in the Basic laws fundamental rights and we will not injure [the rights] of women, LGBT communities or the ultra-Orthodox,” he said during a press conference on Monday evening. 

Critics of the coalition’s planned judicial reforms fear that it would ultimately give the elected government and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, nearly unrestricted power. They are concerned that a judicial overhaul would remove, rather than improve, the government’s checks and balances by giving the legislature control of judicial appointments. At the same, they warn against removing the ability of the High Court of Justice to strike down what it perceives to be “unconstitutional” laws. While Israel does not have a Constitution, its Supreme Court has power to scrap laws it deems as “unreasonable.”

Anchoring fundamental civil rights into law is a way for the government to ease such fears. Any talks toward this end are reportedly just one aspect of the negotiation efforts to reach a more comprehensive solution to problems identified in Israel’s judicial system. 

The judicial overhaul comprises an all-encompassing reform package relevant to many constitutional and political issues raised by reform proponents within the ruling coalition.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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