Brussels, March 30th, 2023 – The current unrest in Israel as expressed in the growing opposition to the proposed judicial reform is not anything exceptional for Israel but is rather part of a global trend of polarisation and distrust in Western democracies. The EU will do well in not fuelling these flames further but rather show its unreserved support for the Israeli democracy which in less than two months will celebrate its 75th anniversary. These were some of the conclusions in the latest European Report which was recorded in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday.
Danish MEP Anders Vistisen noted that the Supreme Court in Israel has taken a more active role in the legislative process than what is the case in most other democracies, including in his native Denmark where the Supreme Court has only interfered in the legislative process once in its whole history! The Israeli Supreme Court on the other hand has cancelled 32 Knesset laws just in the last thirty years.
Still, in order to make constitutional reforms one needs to seek a broad consensus, something which is apparently missing in Israel society today, Vistisen said. Speaking from a Nordic perspective he therefore recommended a process of broad consensus which would guarantee the support of the judicial reform also by subsequent governments, regardless of their political compositions. But he also added that this is something for the Israeli citizens to work out and not for any outsiders such as the European Union to interfere.
Answering a direct question from program host Yossi Lempkowicz if the proposed judicial reform is posing a threat to the vibrant Israeli democracy, as has been suggested by the protestors, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell answered that the future of Israeli democracy has to be decided in open and democratic elections and not by those who are screaming the loudest on the streets of Tel Aviv, by trade unions who are shutting down the international airport or by influential media pundits who are critical of the current government.
However, Sandell agreed with MEP Vistisen that there needs to be a broad consensus for the current judicial reforms. He was confident that a compromise can be reached if all parties show good will. The current situation is not an option as it poses a national security threat to the Jewish state at the same time as it puts into questions the stability of Israeli society as a whole which is a prerequisite for the success of the Start-up Nation and the financial system.
But the current unrest is not unique for Israel, Sandell added. In France President Emmanuel Macron is currently opposed by violent street demonstrators for having pushed through an unpopular pension reform in the national Parliament. Also other leading Western democracies are challenged by similar trends as those in Israel and France.
Therefore, those who are criticising Israel from the outside are simply throwing stones in their own glass houses, Tomas Sandell concluded.