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Unauthorized media leak reveals Israeli Supreme Court will veto controversial Reasonableness Law

President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut and Supreme Court justices at a court hearing on petitions against the Incapacitation Law, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, September 28, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem reportedly intends to strike down the government's controversial Reasonableness Standard Law, according to a leak to Israeli media on Wednesday.

Israeli Channel 12 news reported that Israel’s 15-judge panel of the Supreme Court is deeply divided on the issue, with 8 in favor and 7 against nullifying the law. If so, it would mark the first time in Israeli history that the nation's supreme court would strike down a law with the status of a quasi-constitutional Basic Law.

The Office of the Judicial Authority blasted the unofficial leak to the media prior to the final ruling.

“We view unauthorized leaks with great severity and will not comment on it. The ruling will be published after [the process of] writing it has been completed,” read the official statement.

Members of the Netanyahu-led coalition government criticized the report as a political tool designed to undermine the fragile national unity during the ongoing war with the Hamas terrorist organization.

Religious Zionism party Knesset Member Simcha Rothman, who heads the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, condemned the leak as “an act of national irresponsibility,” stressing that it “changes the fundamental principles of the State of Israel by a razor-thin margin.”

Meanwhile, members of the political opposition also condemned the leak, including Yesh Atid party Knesset Member Karin Elharar, a vocal opponent of the Reasonableness Standard Law.

“The attempt to influence the ruling of the High Court and to change the written opinions of the justices which were leaked is despicable and illegitimate,” Elharar stated.

“The judges must rule independently and without fear,” she added.

The deep divisions within the judicial panel reflect the wider divisions in Israeli society regarding the entire judicial reform that Netanyahu's government seeks to implement. Both sides have blamed each other for undermining Israeli democracy.

Proponents of the judicial reform, such as Rothman, argue that it is designed to restore a reasonable balance between Israel’s judiciary and executive branches. However, opponents accuse the Netanyahu coalition government of seeking to neutralize the judiciary by concentrating all the power in the executive branch.

Unlike many other democracies, Israel currently does not have a formal constitution. In its absence, many Israelis and foreign observers believe that the judiciary constitutes a crucial bulwark for Israeli democracy.

In late July, the Israeli government passed the controversial Reasonableness Standard Law amid vocal opposition in the Knesset and the wider Israeli society.

Kaplan Force, a non-government organization that opposes the judicial reform, accused the Netanyahu government of undermining Israel’s future.

"The government of the destruction of the Temple voted to crush the State of Israel as we knew it – we will fight them to the end,” the protest organization vowed in an official statement. “We will continue a stubborn struggle that will only get worse and worse, and in the end, Israel will return to being a democracy."

Some Israeli and international pundits argue that domestic divisions regarding the judicial reform controversy present the Jewish state as weak and lacking unity, which may have encouraged the terror organization Hamas to carry out its unprecedented surprise invasion and brutal attack against Israel's southern communities on the Gaza border on Oct. 7.

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

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