Judicial reform will lead to academic boycott, deans warn

The latest senior officials to oppose the government’s judicial reform plan, Israeli university deans, said on Monday the plan would deal a “death blow” to Israeli educational institutions.

“This can be manifested in the flow of brains, the small number of foreign professors, students, researchers and post-docs who want to join our ranks, the difficulty of access to international research funds, the withdrawal of some foreign industries from cooperation with Israel. universities and even the international research and education community,โ€ wrote the Committee of University Deans.

The composition of this committee includes the deans of Jerusalem Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University, Weizmann Institute, Technion, Ariel University and the Open University (with observer status). . Dean of Bar-Ilan University, Professor Arie Zaban, chairs.

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The authors of the petition urge the government not to rush into judicial reforms without a broad public debate on the security, economic and social implications.

According to information Ha’aretz Published on Sunday, the coalition wants to pass the already public part of the draft by the beginning of April.

“We call on the government and the Knesset to uphold the core values โ€‹โ€‹of the Declaration of Independence, especially the protection of the rights of minorities and the dignity of every person,” the scholars said.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and other judges during a Supreme Court hearing on petitions against Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s recent conviction for tax crimes as a minister, January 5, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Justice Minister Yariv Levin intends to limit the Supreme Court’s power to overturn laws and government decisions through an “errogation clause” that would allow the Knesset to re-legislate previously repealed laws with just a 61-member majority.

He also wants to give the government full control over the appointment of judges, ban the Court from using a “reasonableness” test to judge laws and government decisions, and allow ministers to no longer appoint their own legal advisers independently of ministerial advisers. Justice.

According to information Ha’aretzother yet-to-be-announced plans include weakening the role of the Attorney General, limiting avenues of appeal against government actions, and major changes to the quasi-constitutional basic laws that would rebalance the power between the Knesset and parliament. Supreme Court.

Critics argue that the reform, along with other bills, would have a significant impact on Israel’s democratic character, undermining checks and balances by giving the executive almost absolute power and leaving minorities vulnerable.

Last Saturday evening, more than 100,000 demonstrators marched against the plans in Tel Aviv, and thousands more marched in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Herzliya and Modiin.

Last week, thousands of college and high school students staged a coordinated hour-long “walkout” against the projects.

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the judicial reform bill in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Supreme Court reform has been an abscess of Conservative – right-wing and ultra-Orthodox – fixation for more than a decade. He is accused of being a progressive who tramples on the chosen majority – those on the right.

On Monday, opposition leader Yair Lapid asked President Isaac Herzog to set up a commission to implement “balanced” judicial reform, echoing university deans’ recommendations for a broad public debate on the question.

Herzog’s office later confirmed that the president had spoken to Lapid about the issue, noting that he was continuing to work on the coalition’s plans to avoid a “major constitutional crisis”.

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