Constitution Committee Discusses the Right to Equality in the Basic Laws

YERUSHALAYIM -

Tensions in the coalition are rising: The Constitution Committee on Monday discussed anchoring equality in the Basic Laws – despite the agreement not to engage in controversial issues.

MK Gilad Karib (Labor) convened the Constitution Committee saying that “every move will be made with coalition agreement.”

The Yamina party was outraged at the debate, which did not receive the support of all coalition factions – and therefore, under the coalition agreement, it is forbidden to advance the anchoring of legislation.

The fear among the opponents to this is that such an anchoring will allow the High Court to engage and change the areas of Judaism in the country, such as the Law of Return.

MK Yom Tov Kalfon (Yamina) said at the committee meeting: “I was surprised by the fact that the discussion was being held. We are discussing here the anchoring of the principle of equality in basic legislation, so I will note section 32 of the coalition agreement between Yamina and Yesh Atid, which applies to all the coalition factions, and stipulates that no new basic legislation will be advanced nor amendments to a basic law without the consent of all the coalition factions. On the face of it, at least judging by past proposals, the enactment of the proposed Basic Law: Equality will not receive the consent of Yamina. This is a discussion in principle, theoretical, perhaps academic; the question is what it will produce in the end, since we are within the framework of the coalition agreements.”

Kalfon added: “On a more substantive level, there is no dispute as to the importance of equality in Israel, that Israel’s citizens all have equal rights, and the Declaration of Independence was mentioned. We amend or pass a law when there is a lacuna, when there is something lacking or an injustice that has been done and needs to be rectified. As a citizen of the state who is well familiar with the case law, I don’t believe that there is a problem of inequality. There is no lack of court rulings on the matter, even far-reaching ones, and this will constitute a disruption of the checks and balances in the context of the Jewish State. If we want [such a law], we should pass the Basic Law: Legislation and then this House will have the ability to override certain rulings that detract from the Jewish character of the State of Israel. There is no other law in the world similar to the Law of Return; there is no other state that has the history of a people returning to its country after 2,000 years, and with such a minority, so the state is different and it must be protected as the only Jewish state in the world. For this reason, equality was deliberately not included in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.”

MK Rabbi Meir Porush (UTJ) commented that “the very discussion that was held in the Constitution Committee constitutes a clear challenge to the existing status quo in matters of religion and state and a blatant and rude attempt by representatives of the Reform community to violate all existing balances around the Jewish character of the State of Israel.”