Israel's Top Court Has No Authority to Overrule Basic Laws, Justice Minister Says

Ayelet Shaked claims Israel has never passed a racist law, says any Knesset that can pass racist laws is one that would not obey a High Court’s decisions

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset plenum, Jerusalem, Israel, September 17, 2018
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset plenum, Jerusalem, Israel, September 17, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that the High Court of Justice lacks the jurisdiction to rule on petitions against the nation-state law and may not intervene in the legislation of Basic Laws.

“It has never been determined that Basic Laws are subject to judicial review,” said Shaked, who was speaking at a special session of the Knesset convened at the request of left-wing party Meretz in the wake of her recent remarks concerning the court.

“Those who determined that laws are subject to judicial review drew on authority granted by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty which says that if a law contradicts the values set by the lawmakers, then the court has the right to overrule such laws.

>> In unprecedented move, judge bases verdict on controversial nation-state law

“But the court does not have the authority to overrule Basic Laws. In countries that have a constitution, the court doesn’t intervene in the formulation of that constitution. Formulation of a constitution is in principle a political process,” Shaked said.

Shaked also commented on the possibility of the Knesset passing controversial laws that contradict the principles of Israeli democracy. “The day that the Israeli Knesset passes a law that says that Haredim or Arabs or women have no right to vote, the court would not be able to save us from that corrosion. A Knesset that can pass racist laws is one that would not obey a High Court’s decisions,” said Shaked, noting that in her view “the Israeli Knesset has never passed a racist law. I don’t think that day will come. But the day it does happen, that cursed Knesset would not heed the High Court of Justice,” Shaked said.

The justice minister mocked opposition claims of that she had launched an “onslaught” against the High Court. In response she read out a list of sharp criticism of the court sounded by left-wing figures in recent weeks, including MK Mossi Raz (Meretz), Neven Abu Rahmoun (Joint List) and an editorial published in Haaretz about the Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar that the state plans to demolish.

“You don’t want a strong, independent court but one that grovels,” charged Shaked. “The moment the court does not agree with you, you burn down the barn. You were used to looking in the mirror and asking ‘mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most righteous of them of all?’ The moment you got a answer you didn’t like, you began to curse.”

Meretz leader MK Tamar Zandberg accused Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan of trying to damage Israeli democracy, by getting rid of the police chief who was overseeing investigations of the prime minister, and by attempting to take over the committee that makes high-ranking civil service appointments.

Zandberg noted that despite the fact that her party had on a number of occasions disagreed with High Court decisions, some of which “gave a green light to the occupation and enabled the settlement enterprise” to thrive, she said that Meretz fully supports the court which acts to safeguard the rule of law.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage