Israeli Supreme Court president Esther Hayut and fellow justices
Israeli Supreme Court president Esther Hayut and fellow justicesYonatan Sindel\Flash 90

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut stated that there needs to be a "mortal blow" to Israeli democracy in order to justify the striking down of a quasi-constitutional Basic Law during the first hearing on petitions to strike down such a law.

Addressing attorney Aner Helman, the representative of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, Hayut said: “We can’t nullify Basic Laws every other day. There needs to be a mortal blow to the basic tenets of the state as a democratic state."

An unprecedented full panel of all 15 Supreme Court justices is taking part in the hearing on the petitions to strike down the amendment to the Basic Laws passed in June that limits the court's ability to apply the "Reasonableness Standard" against the government.

The government has argued that the court would abrogate to itself supreme power if it takes the unprecedented step of striking down a Basic Law, overriding the will of the people and all democratic standards.

Opponents of the Reasonableness Standard law argue that the standard, which allows the court to strike down laws and government actions on the subjective standard that no "reasonable" government would act in such a manner, is a necessary check on the government's authority and protects the rights of minorities. The attorney general has supported the petitions against the law.

Attorney Helman responded to Hayut that the Reasonableness Standard law constitutes “a major blow to the rule of law."

Other justices also questioned Helman's claims that the law harms Israel's democracy.

Justice David Mintz, who has previously written that the court does not have the authority to strike down Basic Laws, said: “By referring to the Declaration of Independence you are creating something out of nothing, there is no implied authority [in Israel's Declaration of Independence]."

Justice Noam Sohlberg questioned whether the passage of the law more than two months ago meant that "we are no longer living in a democracy today."