Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Foreign Affairs Desk, Part II: Israeli Court Isn't Supreme Anymore

Speaking of Israel, that nation was also in the news this weekend. PM Benjamin Netanyahu promised, when he re-ascended to power, that he was going to trim the wings (the robes?) of the members of Israel's Supreme Court. And this weekend, he delivered, securing Knesset passage of a bill that will effectively eliminate the Israeli Supremes' ability to strike down unconstitutional laws.

It is possible that Americans and others who are not particularly enthused with the Roberts Court might see this news and conclude this isn't such a bad idea. Keep in mind, however, that because Israel has a parliamentary system, the legislative and executive branches of the government are effectively the same. In that circumstance, the judiciary is the only real check on the power of the PM, which may just have something to do with Netanyahu's desire to defang the courts.

That said, Israelis who don't share Netanyahu's politics are not taking this lying down. To start, the vote in the Knesset was 64-0 because all members of the opposition walked out in protest, while former PM (and still Knesset member) Yair Lapid has already filed for a court injunction. There are also widespread protests in the streets, and many thousands of reservists are threatening to refuse to perform military service if the law is retained.

All of this is to say that things are pretty unstable in Israel right now. And if the Israeli Supreme Court strikes down a law that says it's not allowed to strike down laws anymore, then the country would have a full-blown constitutional crisis. What that would mean, both in terms of Netanyahu's political program, and in terms of the public response, we don't know Israeli politics well enough to say. We are grateful to hear from any reader who has insight that we do not have.

What we do know is that shortly before the anti-court bill was voted on, Joe Biden applied all of his powers of persuasion to try to get Netanyahu to back down. Obviously, that did not work at all. That's a foreign policy loss for the President, and a reminder that the PM doesn't much care for Biden, and only yields to pressure from the current White House when it is absolutely necessary for him to do so. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates