Israel's Judiciary under Threat

A lecture by Menachem Hofnung (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Does the Judiciary really constitutes a third independent branch of government in Israel? This question arises when one witnesses the continuous attempts to change the existing balance of power and limit the court from applying judicial doctrines and legal standards to executive and parliamentary decisions.

In the early years of the State of Israel, Supreme Court justices were appointed by the government. However, the enactment of the Judges Act in 1953 formally anchored the principle of judicial independence in Israel, and transferred the power of appointment from the Government to the President of the State.

Remarkably, until the 1980s, appointing a judge to the Supreme Court was not of great public concern. However, with the changing nature of voting patterns and the formation of competitive elections and shaky coalitions in the 1980s, the court was frequently asked to intervene in political decisions. In a sense, petitions to the High Court of Justice became another tool for the parliamentary opposition and civil society to have their voice in the formation of public policy. This trend was enhanced following the enactment of the 1992 Basic Laws on human rights, and consequent rulings that established the power of judicial review.

In his talk, Professor Hofnung discusses how the appointment of justices, the power of judicial review, and even the legitimacy of Israel’s Supreme Court have become permanent and compelling issues in Israeli politics.



Menachem Hofnung is a Professor of Political Science of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research covers national security and civil liberties, constitutional politics and comparative political finance.

Click here to view a video cast.


Duration: 00:34:15

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017