13 Juli 2022

Hanging by a Thread

On June 20, 2022, Israel’s PM Naftali Bennet announced that he has decided, together with Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister and Alternate Prime Minister, to disperse the Knesset.  Bennet explained that the dissolvement was necessary to avoid “constitutional chaos”. But what was this pending “chaos”? What Bennet was referring to in such dramatic terms is the prospect of the expiration of the Emergency Regulations (Judea and Samaria—Adjudication of Offenses and Legal Assistance), which were set to expire as a result of the Knesset failing to pass a law extending them. What are these regulations? And how can the expiration of regulations, let alone emergency regulations, amount to a constitutional crisis? Continue reading >>
14 Mai 2022

Versammlungsfreiheit gilt auch für Palästinenser

Wie jedes Jahr werden weltweit Demonstrationen stattfinden, die an die Nakba erinnern, und dieses Jahr wird auch der Tod Abu Akles Thema sein. Nicht allerdings in Berlin, zumindest nicht legal. Denn die Polizei hat gleich fünf angemeldete Demonstrationen untersagt; Verwaltungsgericht und Oberverwaltungsgericht haben die Verbote aufrechterhalten. Ein Verdacht drängt sich auf: Sollte der Verbotsgrund darin liegen, dass „diese Klientel“ dem Staat besonders unangenehm ist? Continue reading >>
10 Mai 2022

„Im Zweifelsfall inhaftieren!“

Israel wurde in letzter Zeit von einer Reihe von Terroranschlägen heimgesucht, darunter drei Anschläge in einer einzigen Woche Ende März 2022, und weitere seither. In dem Versuch, die Gewalt einzudämmen, beschloss die israelische Regierung unter anderem nicht nur mutmaßliche Terroristen aus den besetzten Gebieten (wie sie es regelmäßig tut), sondern auch mögliche Verdächtige unter israelischen Bürgern ohne Gerichtsverfahren in Verwaltungshaft zu nehmen. Der Einsatz von Verwaltungshaft ohne Gerichtsverfahren ist ein gutes Beispiel für den permanenten Ausnahmezustand, da er als reguläres Mittel der Regierung eingesetzt wird: Im Zweifelsfall verhaftet die israelische Regierung. Continue reading >>

“When in doubt, detain!”

Israel recently saw a bout of terror attacks, including three assaults in a single week in late March 2022, and more since. The Israeli Government, in an attempt to curb the violence, decided among other steps to administratively detain without trial not only suspected possible terrorists from the Occupied Territories (as it regularly does) but also possible suspects among Israeli citizens. The use of administrative detentions without trial is a good example of the permanent mindset of emergency, as they are utilized as a regular means of government: when in doubt, the Israeli government detains. Continue reading >>
08 Mai 2022

Wrong to the Core

On May 4, 2022, close to midnight, the Supreme Court of Israel released its judgment in HCJ 413/13 Abu Aram v. Minister of Defense, holding that the Israeli army is permitted to evict eight Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta, a rural area in the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank, for the stated purpose of establishing a “firing zone” for the IDF. The judgment sealed over two decades of litigation, in which the Court pushed the parties to settle and “compromise.” Unfortunately, the decision in this case is wrong to the core. Continue reading >>
08 Februar 2022

When Your Own Spyware Hits Home

A newspaper report from January 18, 2022, revealed that the Israeli police has been using a spy software to spy on its own citizens. This affair illustrates how existing Israeli privacy law is inadequate for dealing with the types of privacy violations enabled by new technologies. But the ease with which these technologies are used also speaks volumes about the militarization of Israeli society. Continue reading >>
20 Juli 2021

Does Where You (Legally) Stand Depend On Where You Sit?

On July 8, 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petitions challenging Basic Law: Israel as the Nation of the Jewish People, enacted almost three years earlier. The so-called Hasson decision not only raises important questions about the relationship between legal and political struggles, it also calls into question the constitutional foundations of equality and democracy. Continue reading >>
04 Juni 2021

After he’s gone

Bibi's fall and how to find back from authoritarian populism to democratic politics Continue reading >>

Wenn er weg ist

Bibis Sturz und wie man aus dem autoritären Populismus in die demokratische Politik zurückfindet Continue reading >>
30 Mai 2021

Saving the Constitution from Politics

On May 23, 2021, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) delivered an important decision setting and defining the limits for the use of Basic Laws – laws of a constitutional ranking – for the purpose of solving temporary political and coalition problems. The Basic Laws are supposed to be “the crown jewels” of our constitutional system, yet in Israeli politics they have become an instrumental tool for narrow and everyday political interest, often amended in a temporary manner. The decision, given by a 6-3 majority of an extended bench, now defines some constitutional boundaries for the proper use of Basic Laws. Continue reading >>
13 April 2021

A Year in Review: COVID-19 in Israel

Israel’s response to the pandemic took place in an unstable and highly polarized political climate. This affected the decisions taken in several ways. First, throughout the crisis, it was difficult to achieve agreement within the government on required actions. In addition, decisions often reflected political rather than professional considerations, a problem that was exacerbated by the instability of the coalition. The prospect of additional elections also effected the political will to enforce restrictions, in particular in the Ultra-Orthodox sector, as Ultra-Orthodox parties are perceived by Netanyahu as necessary partners in any government coalition. Continue reading >>
22 März 2021

Tracking Citizens

Israeli authorities will still be able to use military phone tracking surveillance technology in the combat against the Coronavirus – but not in a way as unbridled as the government had wished. This is the outcome of a recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court in the case of ACRI v. the Knesset. The Court refrained from declaring the Law authorizing the General Secret Service to track contact persons of infected COVID-19 patients invalid, but limited the cases in which military phone tracking surveillance technology could be used, and required the government to establish clear criteria for such use.  Continue reading >>
02 März 2021

„Solid jurisdictional basis“?

Am 5.2.2021 erging die langerwartete Entscheidung von Vorverfahrenskammer I zur Frage der Zuständigkeit des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs für mögliche Kriegsverbrechen in den von Israel besetzen palästinensischen Gebieten seit 13.6.2014. Die Entscheidung erging auf Antrag der Anklagebehörde, die zwar von einem Anfangsverdacht iSv Art. 53 Abs. 1 IStGH-Statut ausgeht, vor der Fortführung der Ermittlungen die Zuständigkeitsfrage aber vorab geklärt haben wollte. Der Grund liegt darin, dass die Staatenqualität Palästinas höchst umstritten ist, irgendeine Form von Staatlichkeit aber Voraussetzung für die territoriale Zuständigkeit des Gerichtshofs ist. Continue reading >>
08 Januar 2021

The Paradox of Israel’s Coronavirus Law

On January 12, 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court sitting as High Court of Justice (HCJ) will hear arguments in a series of cases challenging the constitutionality of Israel’s Coronavirus Law. This Law was enacted on July 23, 2020, to replace the Israeli government’s reliance on general emergency powers. It was supposed to curb the government’s powers on restricting rights and ensure parliamentary supervision of enacted measures. In fact, however, it handed the government new executive lawmaking powers rather than limiting them. Continue reading >>
14 Oktober 2020

An Emergency within an Emergency within an Emergency

On September 17, 2020, I published a blogpost on Verfassungsblog, warning that while COVID-19 has not, at the time, been used in Israel as a justification for banning protests, there was reason for concern. The concern materialized on September 30, 2020. The Knesset amended the Coronavirus Law to allow the government to declare a “special coronavirus emergency situation” which raises an array of questions. Continue reading >>
17 September 2020

Lock-Down to Avoid Lock-Up?

Whether and to what extent public demonstrations can legitimately be limited in times of a pandemic is a challenge many countries are facing these days. In Israel, however, the COVID-19 crisis is intertwined with an ongoing political crisis. Citizens take to the street against a government which uses the pandemic as an argument to restrict those very protests. With a second lock-down imminent, is freedom of assembly in danger in Israel? Continue reading >>
14 Juni 2020

Constitutional Adjudication of International Law Violations

On June 9, 2020, the Israeli Supreme Court delivered its long-awaited decision regarding the 2017 Settlement Law. The Court invalidated the Law by an 8 to 1 majority, determining that it violated the constitutional rights to property, dignity and equality. In addition to the importance of the concrete decision, the ruling raises important issues regarding the applicability of Israeli constitutional law to the Occupied Territories, the role of international law in the context of constitutional review in Israel, and the relevance of the answers to these issues in the case of a possible upcoming annexation of the West Bank. Continue reading >>
12 Mai 2020

Is it the Court’s Role to Save a Country from Itself?

On May 6, 2020, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected eight petitions against PM Netanyahu’s rule as PM and against the unity agreement between Netanyahu and his former contender, Benny Gantz (“the Unity Agreement”). The unanimous decision was delivered by an expanded panel of eleven judges, who emphasized that despite the severity of the allegations against Netanyahu, there was no basis, in Israeli law, for disqualifying him. Continue reading >>
20 April 2020

Corona Constitutional #12: Netanyahu widerstehen

Die Bilder aus Tel Aviv vom letzten Sonntag haben viele beeindruckt: Eine Massendemonstration mitten in der Coronakrise, Tausende von Menschen, die ihren Protest gegen die Regierung Netanyahu mit ihrer physischen Präsenz unterlegen und dabei – das ist das besondere, – social distancing wahren. In Israel ist vieles besonders in diesen Tagen, die Pandemie trifft auf eine politische und eine Verfassungskrise, dem Regierungschef droht die Anklage und um ihr zu entgehen, nimmt er immer größere Schäden an der Verfassung in Kauf. Wie sich Demokratie und Rechtsstaat schlagen in diesem Konflikt, darüber spricht Max Steinbeis mit TAMAR HOSTOVSKY BRANDES. Continue reading >>
08 April 2020

Constitutional Crisis in Israel: Coronavirus, Interbranch Conflict, and Dynamic Judicial Review

The Covid-19 pandemic hit Israel in fragile political and constitutional times. After three consecutive national elections and during unprecedented and continuous constitutional crisis, it has deepened an interbranch conflict that has led to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) taking part, in real time, in a dynamic judicial review. The HCJ not only facilitated the functioning of the parliament but also expedited its oversight on the government’s use of emergency powers. Continue reading >>
07 April 2020

Israel’s Perfect Storm: Fighting Coronavirus in the Midst of a Constitutional Crisis

A notable characteristic of the Israeli management of the crisis is the growing reliance on the military and on national security agencies, with respect to both types of measures. The sections below will examine the measures taken, the concerns these measures raise, and the steps taken to address such concerns. Continue reading >>
26 März 2020

When the Coronavirus Crisis Turns into a Crisis of Democracy

The ongoing political crisis in Israel raises the question of whether the government acts fully in good faith when deciding on measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. The current situation, in which the parliament is hindered from functioning and in which emergency regulations directly benefit the personal situation of the current Prime Minister, raises doubts about this. Continue reading >>
19 März 2020

An Open Letter to the Speaker and the Legal Advisor of the Knesset

Following the March 2 election, Prime Minister Netanyahu has the support of 58 Knesset-Members. In contrast, 61 Knesset-Members have come out in support of Benny Gantz. In light of this majority, earlier this week Gantz was tasked by Israel’s President the mandate to try and form a government. Against this backdrop, on Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein unexpectedly suspended the recently elected Knesset. Continue reading >>
09 Oktober 2019

Slowing or Stopping the Turn to Authoritarianism in Israel

The elections will not bring any change with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the religious conflict or the growing inequality. But they are important and even crucial for the future of Israel as they are most likely to slow and perhaps block the erosion of the protection of civil rights in Israel and the slow but continuous transition of Israel from a liberal democracy to an authoritarian one. Continue reading >>
24 September 2019

What Difference Does it Make to Fully Annex the Quasi-Annexed Occupied Territories?

Whether or not Netanyahu’s era of prime minister of Israel is coming to an end, his campaign announcement that Israel will unilaterally annex at least parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories should not be dismissed. First, because this possibility has long ceased to be a political taboo in Israel. Second, and more importantly, because in many ways, a sub-official process of partial annexation is already taking place in Israel, to a large extent, under the radar of the international community. Continue reading >>
21 September 2018

36 Jahre Sabra und Shatila und die Frage der Strafverfolgung

Das Massaker von Sabra und Shatila wurde zum Sinnbild für die Grausamkeiten des Libanesischen Bürgerkrieges. In dieser Woche jähren sich die Ereignisse zum 36. Mal. Grund genug der Frage nachzugehen, ob eine etwaige Strafverfolgung gegen die aktiv beteiligten Milizionäre durch deutsche Strafverfolgungsbehörden auch heutzutage noch möglich wäre. Continue reading >>
31 Juli 2018

Shifting towards a democratic-authoritarian state: Israel’s new Nation-State Law

The 'Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People' was passed by the Knesset on July 19, 2018. The Basic Law purports to entrench the identity of the state as a Jewish state. As this Article is being written several petitions against the Basic Law are being prepared and will be submitted to the Supreme Court. The Court however may find it very difficult to declare the Basic Law void. Continue reading >>
27 Juli 2018

A new chapter in Israel’s “constitution”: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People

In the very last day of the Knesset’s summer session, on July 19th 2018, the Israeli Knesset passed a new Basic Law stating that Israel is the Nation State of the Jewish people. Supporters of this Basic Law claim that it simply states the obvious: Israel was established as a refuge and a homeland for the Jewish people. Still, the Basic Law is very problematic. Not because of what is included within it, but mainly for what is missing from it: the idea of a democratic state and the principle of equality. Continue reading >>
15 Mai 2018

The Israeli Override Clause and the Future of Israeli Democracy

The recent proposals to enact an override clause to the Israeli Basic Law; Human Dignity and Liberty has triggered a fierce public debate in Israeli legal and political circles. Under this proposal, the Knesset could reenact a statute that was declared void by the courts.   As is characteristic of such debates, the proponents and opponents of the override clause claim to defend democracy, strengthen the protection of rights and defend restore the proper balance between different branches of government. The purpose of this post is to explain the background of this debate and evaluate the pros and cons of the override clause in the Israeli context. Continue reading >>
22 November 2017

Protecting Israeli Citizens against Discrimination in Germany?

Last week, the district court of Frankfurt/Main issued a verdict that Kuwait Airways was allowed to refuse an Israeli citizen on its flight. The decision gained widespread international news coverage: Amidst concerns about rising antisemitism in Europe, many parts of the public were alarmed by what the mayor of Frankfurt described as anti-Semitic discriminatory practices that violated German law and international standards. In the following we take a close look at the legal issues involved in this case and discuss whether or not it might have been possible to come to a different conclusion. Continue reading >>
27 April 2017

Courts in a Populist World

“I did not come to in order to be loved […] Continue reading >>
07 Mai 2013

Palästinenser suchen „Präsidenten“ per Castingshow

Eine der Errungenschaften dieses Jahrhunderts ist die Erfindung der Castingshow: […] Continue reading >>
08 Januar 2013

Ein paar Gedanken zum New-School-Antisemitismus

Was Old-School-Antisemitismus ist, davon haben wir alle eine ziemlich genaue […] Continue reading >>
16 November 2011

Israels Regierung will Supreme Court nach rechts drücken

Ran Hirschl berichtet auf ComparativeConstitutions.org über zwei Gesetze, die derzeit […] Continue reading >>
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