In a landmark event on Tuesday, the High Court of Israel convened for a marathon 13-hour hearing involving 15 judges and a series of petitions challenging the first law approved by the Knesset as part of a broader legal revolution. The hearing, which captivated the nation, saw judges intensely questioning both sides and underscoring the importance of safeguarding democracy.
As of 11:30 p.m., official viewership figures for the live broadcast were unavailable, but data from the Judiciary's YouTube channel indicated approximately 200,000 views.
The central issue at hand revolved around the amendment to the Basic Law: the Judiciary, which aimed to eliminate the use of "reasonableness" as a standard to evaluate government actions. Supreme Court President Ester Hayut raised concerns about who would ensure that government officials acted reasonably without this safeguard.
During the proceedings, Knesset member Tali Gottlieb made an impassioned statement, asserting, "The Knesset is not a democracy." President Hayut responded by emphasizing the importance of civil discourse.
The government representative, Attorney Bombach, argued against the significance of the Declaration of Independence as a legal authority, sparking a contentious debate. Judge Noam Solberg expressed concerns that eliminating the "reasonableness" standard could have lasting consequences.
The representative of the ombudsman countered that this change did not make the court's authority eternal and highlighted the government's intentions to reform the judicial system.
A heated exchange ensued between President Hayut and Chairman Rothman of the Constitution Committee, who questioned the court's impartiality. Judge Fogelman reprimanded Rothman for his comments, emphasizing the importance of legal arguments.
Judge Amit questioned why the legislature knowingly passed a flawed law and suggested indirect methods to address the issues it raised. Additionally, he expressed concerns about potential threats to minority rights in the democratic process.
At the end of this historic hearing, President Hayut announced that a decision would be delayed, giving both parties 21 days to submit supplementary arguments, limited to 15 pages. The outcome of this high-stakes case will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for Israel's legal landscape.
This unprecedented legal battle has sparked a nationwide debate on the balance between government authority and the protection of democratic values, as Israel navigates a transformative period in its legal history.