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Proposals from Israel’s new far-right government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would significantly weaken the country’s Supreme Court.
In what the Court’s chief justice has described as a “fatal blow to democracy,” these sweeping changes would give the parliament powers to override Supreme Court decisions by one vote; reinstate legislation that has been ruled in violation of Israel’s Basic Laws; and effectively control the appointment of judges.
Critics fear this disruption is a symptom of democratic backsliding in Israel, following the playbook of increasingly autocratic governments in Hungary and Poland. There are also concerns that the changes could bring back laws that the Court previously struck down, such as one retroactively legalizing settlements on land privately owned by Palestinians. These fears have sparked weeks of enormous protests in Israel, with tens of thousands of people marching on the streets and military reservists refusing to train.
Is Israel in a similar process of democratic backsliding to that seen in Hungary and Poland? What might this mean for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Will Netanyahu’s government be forced to back down by public dissent? Join Perry World House for a discussion of this unfolding issue.
Guy Grossman is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is in applied political economy, with substantive focus on the intersection of technology and governance, political accountability, forced migration and conflict processes, and a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Israel-Palestine. Grossman is the founder and co-director of Penn’s Development Research Initiative, a member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics network, and faculty affiliate of Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab, Penn’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration, and Penn’s Identity & Conflict Lab. He designed and carried out field studies in sites in a large number of developing countries, in collaboration with various international agencies, including the World Bank and USAID, as well as with African governments and local non-governmental organizations. His work has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, International Organization, and Journal of Politics, among other journals. He holds a PhD in political science from Columbia University as well as an MA in political philosophy and LLB in law from Tel-Aviv University.
R. Daniel Kelemen is professor of political science and law and chair of the department of political science at Rutgers University. He is also an adjunct professor of European Union law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Kelemen’s research focuses on the politics of the European Union, law and politics, comparative political economy, and comparative public policy. His 2011 book Eurolegalism: The Transformation of Law and Regulation in the European Union won the Best Book Award from the European Union Studies Association. He is author or editor of five other books, and has written over one hundred articles and book chapters. Kelemen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and comments regularly on EU affairs for European and American media. He received his AB in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and his MA and PhD in political science from Stanford University.
Trudy Rubin is the Worldview columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a member of the Inquirer's editorial board, and a visiting fellow at Perry World House. Her column runs in many other US newspapers. Rubin spent three weeks on the ground in Ukraine in July 2022. In 2019, Rubin received the Overseas Press Club of America’s Flora Lewis Award for Best Commentary in international affairs. In 2017 and 2001, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2010, she received the Arthur Ross Award for distinguished analysis of foreign affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy. She is the author of Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq. Rubin has special expertise on the Middle East, South Asia, and Russia. In recent years, she has written from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Turkey, France, Italy, Britain, and Germany. Before joining the Inquirer in 1983, she was Middle East correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Rubin is a graduate of Smith College and the London School of Economics and Political Science.