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The Reason Behind Israel’s Reasonableness Law

Ohad Zwigenberg

Over the past months in Israel, flocks of citizens gathered on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in protest, both for and against the Knesset’s bill known as the “Reasonableness Standard.” 

This bill, officially passed by the Israeli parliament on July 24, prevents high courts from using a text called the Reasonableness Doctrine to review the legislation made by Israeli politicians. As a result, this new bill heavily lessens the power of high courts, and in turn, increases that of parliament, which many view as corrupt.

The Reasonableness Doctrine is a philosophy rooted in Jewish law and in the practices of Western politics and democracy, which allows policymakers to lead in a just, equitable, and benevolent way. 

Israeli politics are vastly different from that of American politics for the main reason that there is no Israeli constitution to judge legality on as in America.  Instead, high courts have used the Reasonableness Doctrine to review all pieces of legislation for injustice and promote equity in legislation. 

Many argue that now the Israeli parliament, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has near unlimited power in Israeli leadership, and leaving it unchecked is highly dangerous to Israeli society and democracy itself. However, on the contrary, supporters of the bill claim that the Reasonableness Doctrine is a far too subjective method to judge legislation, and before the new Reasonableness Law, the high courts were given an absurd amount of governmental power. 

The American government reflects the views of the law’s opposers, as President Joe Biden repeatedly called and warned Netanyahu on the dangerous effects this bill has on the foundations of democracy and offered help on a resolution to Israel’s debates on legislative power. 

However, Israel’s high court has only used reasonableness a handful of times in the past decade, averaging 2.5 cases within a given decade. So why is everyone protesting? Well, the Reasonableness Doctrine is used as much as a guidebook to ethical leadership in the Israeli government as the judicial system itself. Supporters argue that without the effects of the doctrine, the Israeli Knesset will begin to conduct itself in an unjust, inequitable, and corrupt manner. It was used primarily by the Israeli government as a boundary for officials not to cross, and now, many argue that there are no limitations to executive power. 

Israel now stands as a country polarized by internal conflict. Citizens are unsure if they live in a totalitarian or democratic state. The future of Israel is unclear, as no one is entirely sure how the removal of reasonableness will affect the Jewish state.

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About the Contributor
Marissa Bishop
Marissa Bishop, Editor in Chief
Marissa Bishop is a senior at the Emery/Weiner school, and this is her third year writing for The 9825 and her second year as Editor-In-Chief. Marissa is actively involved in the Emery/Weiner theatre program, participating in two to three shows a year and serving as President of Emery's ITS (International Thespian Society) Troupe. In addition to the arts, Marissa enjoys playing lacrosse for both Emery and her tournament team.

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