Moderate Voices Heard From Judicial Community

By Hamodia Staff

Former High Court Justice, Yaakov Turkel. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — Amid ongoing reports of fierce opposition to the government’s proposed judicial reforms within the legal community, two former members of the profession came out on Tuesday in support of changes in the system.

Former High Court Justice Yaakov Turkel said that he is “in favor of legal reform,” though on a significantly more moderate basis than what Justice Minister Yariv Levin has spoken of.

Turkel told Ynet that he could support giving the Knesset authority to override the High Court when it strikes down a law, but would want to require a majority of “about 70 MKs,” rather than Levin’s proposed simple majority of 61 out of 120 in the Knesset.

The former justice suggested that the reforms could be passed “and we could see afterwards how it works.”

On the issue of the appointment of justices, whereby the judiciary currently has the decisive say, Turkel opined that the system “works well, there is nothing bad in it.” However, he added, he didn’t want to rule out any changes. “I think we have to do what is right and good, and when necessary to change.”

Levin would adjust the makeup of the selection committee such that the judges would lose their veto, for the first time since the system was set up in 1953.

When asked about the propriety of the High Court intervening in the appointment of ministers, as in the case of Rabbi Deri, Turkel hedged:

“This is a very difficult and sensitive matter. I have my doubts. We have to see how it works out.”

Overall, Turkel added his voice to those who are calling for a broad public consensus for changes to the judiciary.

Ran Nizri, a deputy attorney general until last year, is less satisfied with the existing situation, telling the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee on Tuesday that it needs “substantial improvements” and “deserves” some of the criticism that has been leveled against it by members of the Netanyahu government.

“The [legal] system is in need of substantial improvements and doesn’t know how to accept criticism,” Nizri told the committee in a hearing on Tuesday. “It has in my eyes justly earned aspects of the criticism [toward it]. For years they objected to changes ‘because it’s not the time,’” he was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.

However, he too believes that Levin’s overhaul would go too far.

“The system must be corrected but not in the most extreme manner possible…The fact that the legal system has not made evolutionary changes does not mean that it must now be punished, and carry out a revolution that will harm the country.”

Nizri served as deputy under two attorneys general from 2011 to 2022, in the fields of criminal law, public and constitutional law, and legal administration.

He added that the idea that nothing in the legal system requires change is “no less dangerous” than the government’s radical reform proposals, “because for one thing the current situation is not ideal, and second, the public is likely to feel that the political majority is being trampled on.”

Nizri also called for “real dialogue,” for members of the legal system to demonstrate “openness” to change, and for both sides to act in good faith, including politicians, who he said were “going to extremes.”

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