Daily Israel Report

Knesset Bill to Force Courts to ‘Return to Zion’

The courts have allowed democracy to swallow Zionism, says MKs Rotem and Levin, who back a bill to make Zionism the basis for court rulings.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/9/2009, 9:13 AM / Last Update: 12/9/2009, 9:16 AM

Flash 90

The Basic Law of Israel, which provides a basis for court rulings, will define Israel as a Zionist and Jewish state that is democratic, and not vice-versa, if the Knesset approves a new bill proposed by two Knesset Members.

“The High Court has turned the Basic Law, that recognizes the values and freedom of mankind, into a tool to justify rulings that ignore the Jewish identity of the State of Israel,” said MK Yariv Levin, a Likud legislator and chairman of the Knesset House Committee. This new bill will return Zionism to a basis for judicial rulings and determine…that Israel is first and foremost a Jewish State.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Knesset Law Committee chairman MK David Rotem of Israel Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu). The proposed change to the Basic Law, which requires an absolute majority of MKs to become law, would make democracy a part of a Jewish State instead of the current situation that he said places democracy above and beyond Zionism.

The language of the Basic Law today specifies that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic” country, and the new bill would state that it is “a Jewish State that is democratic.”

The proposed bill comes less than two days after Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman told a conference of rabbis that there must be a return to Torah values in the government. He later said his remarks were misinterpreted and that he did not mean that court decision should be based only on Jewish law.

“Minister Ne’eman spoke in broad and general terms about restoring the stature of Jewish law and about the importance of Jewish law to the life of the country," his spokesman said after several secular MKs and legal advisors called for his resignation.