The Associated Press (“AP News”) is reporting that Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a key component of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul on Monday, January 1, 2024, delivering a landmark decision that could reopen the fissures in Israeli society that preceded the country’s ongoing war against Hamas.

The planned overhaul sparked months of mass protest and threatened to trigger a constitutional crisis between the judicial and legislative branches of Israeli government; however, those divisions were largely put aside after Hamas carried out a bloody cross-border attack against Israel on October 7, 2023.

In an 8-7 decision, the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the law passed in July that prevented the judiciary from striking down governmental decisions deemed “unreasonable” – citing that the law presented a “severe and unprecedented harm to the core character of the State of Israel as a democratic country.”  The court also ruled in a 12-3 decision that the it had the authority to overturn so-called “Basic Laws” – which are major pieces of legislation functioning in a manner similar to a constitution.

The AP News article may be read in its entirety HERE.

This writer reported about the Knesset’s passing of the “reasonableness standard” law limiting the power of Israel’s Supreme Court on July 24, 2023.  This FGGAM article may be read HERE.

My brothers and sisters, Prime Minister Netanyahu is of the view that Israel’s Knesset (not the high court) should make the final determinations as to the legality of legislation in Israel (and certain other matters).  On the other hand, justices with Israel’s high court point out that the Knesset does not have “omnipotent” power.

This sort of struggle is along the same lines as addressed in the U.S. Constitution regarding the separation of powers between the various branches of our federal government.

The “separation of powers doctrine” is absolutely critical to prevent unbalanced, or worse, abusive government by a single branch of government in the absence of established “checks and balances.”  It also helps to assure relevant, quality and balanced representation for the citizens of the U.S. at the federal level – but perhaps most of all, and especially as it pertains to the Supreme Court, it is designed to keep all branches of government functioning within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution.

Although the U.S. is experiencing ongoing disagreement about the balance of power between the three branches of federal government, the situation in Israel represents more of a true constitutional crisis, as Israel does not have a formal constitution and the Knesset is unicameral (as opposed to the bicameral U.S. Congress comprised of the House and the Senate).

In Israel, the Executive (the prime minister) governs through a majority coalition in the Knesset, giving relative control over the Executive and Legislative Branches to the prime minister.  It’s easy to see why the authority and make-up of the judiciary in Israel becomes critical.

Let’s remember that Israel’s current government is young (even by U.S. standards) and that with prayer and patience, Israel will get this situation figured out.  Sadly, the whole world right now seems to be divided right down the middle, spiritually, politically and otherwise, making moral decision-making or compromise (when appropriate) all that much harder.

Israel is the only democratically-governed country in the Middle East and our longstanding (and very special) ally in that part of the globe.  So let’s pray for a political resolution within Israel that will bring peace, unity and strength to the Israeli government – especially as Israel is in the very midst of fighting a war to assure its survival and the protection of its citizens against Hamas terrorists.

Some scripture to consider:

Deuteronomy 7:6 (NKJV)
“For you [the Jews] are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

Psalm 33:12 (KJV)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom [H]e hath chosen for [H]is own inheritance.”

Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV)
“For the Lord gives wisdom; [f]rom His mouth come knowledge and understanding…”.

James 1:5 (NKJV)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

And as always, let’s remember to pray for our governmental leaders, as well as leaders in Israel and around the globe:

1 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV)
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions [emphasis mine], that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…”.

Praise Jesus forevermore!

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