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Think tank leader: Israel’s judicial reform debate will be settled by demographics

Kohelet Policy Forum chair, Prof. Moshe Koppel, says the political right is having more children

Prof. Moshe Koppel (L), award winner of The Moskowitz Prize for Zionism at a ceremony held in the International Convention Center, in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90

Prof. Moshe Koppel, chairperson of the Kohelet Policy Forum, widely considered to be the intellectual progenitor of the Israeli government coalition’s ongoing judicial reform efforts, said judicial reforms are inevitable due to Israel's demographics. 

Koppel’s comments came in an interview with the U.S.-based Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), in which he discussed the necessity of the judicial reforms and why he thinks they are inevitable. 

When JNS asked Koppel how the Kohelet Policy Forum became identified with the judicial reform movement, he said the organization has worked on judicial reforms for “the past 11 years.” 

“We’ve been working on judicial reform and we’ve been working on a variety of issues,” he said. 

Koppel told JNS he was “a little bit skeptical” that the reforms would be accomplished in the coming Knesset session but that reforms will ultimately happen. 

“The demographics are obvious: The right is getting stronger; the religious people, that are part of this coalition, are having more kids than others,” Koppel commented. 

This demographic shift will lead to the reforms being a matter of when, not if, according to Koppel. 

“From a demographic point of view, it looks like the right is probably only going to get stronger. So, if this necessary reform doesn’t happen this time, it will happen in two years, or in four years, or in five,” Koppel said, stating that previous Knesset Members expressed interest in judicial reforms but had not made much progress. 

“Then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was interested in these ideas; she tried to move them forward, but she made a little bit of progress, not much,” Koppel said. 

The ability to make progress on judicial reforms changed with the election of the new coalition government. 

“Now when Yariv Levin became the justice minister and Simcha Rothman the chair of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, we had a real opportunity here, because those are two guys who have for many years been interested in judicial reform,” Koppel told JNS. 

Israel’s coalition and opposition groups continue to meet under the guidance of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, in an attempt to reach a compromise agreement. 

Previous Israeli governments have not seriously assessed any possible judicial reforms, partly because of Israel’s lack of a constitution and also due to pressing security concerns and other challenges the government is facing.

Protests over the reforms have continued, even after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a halt to the legislation, as many in the opposition do not trust Netanyahu or his coalition partners. The opposition has accused the coalition of planning to restart the reform legislation as soon as the next Knesset session begins on April 30.  

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

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