Monday, February 26, 2007


How Israel keeps it's sanity

Ofir Pines (Member of Parliament from the Avoda) was interviewed on Monday morning radio show and reminded the listeners that Prime Minister Olmert once said that his government does not need a policy, but need a good management. Mr. Pines, that only a few months ago resigned from the Government, said that on one topic Olmert does have an Agenda - weakening Israel's supreme court ("Bagatz").

Bagatz often forces the government to explain it's actions in public and bind them to the existing Parliament laws. In recent years, the supreme court also canceled laws that countered existing super-laws. These super-laws were approved by a majority of the Parliament members (61 out of 120), and are the closest thing Israel has to a constitution.

Israeli politicians frequently use the (ongoing) security events to stir the media focus from domestic issues. As a democracy, this is a disastrous process for Israel. The politicians of course have a domestic agenda, but they bend or overlook democratic principles such as minority group rights, information transparency , human rights and other "constraints".

"Bagatz" is Israel's way to keep it's sanity, and save it from short-sighted politicians. All of the "hot" or "taboo" topics such as Palestinian rights, gay rights, the Shabat end up in "Bagatz" - and it was under criticism for not being diversified.

Recently, a new Parliament member named "Esterina Tartman" proposed a bill that will cancel Bagatz' ability to cancel laws. The political setting was such that she could have easily gained enough votes for her bill. Supported by the newly appointed Justice Minister (who was assigned to this post because he thinks that Bagatz is too powerful), the proposed bill allows Bagatz to force on all of the Parliament members to vote on the subject at hand, but they cannot cancel laws. Had this law passed, it would mean the end of the Israeli sane democracy as we know it.

Esterina was the leading candidate to become the next Tourist minister. What Esterina forgot, is that she is playing a game that is way out of her league. A few days ago, the press replayed her saying that she has a MA degree , while she actually did not. Her press conference only got her into more trouble, and she was forced to remove her candidacy from the Tourist minister post.

Ofir Pines, by the way, forsaw that Bagatz is in trouble, and proposed a bill that would allow Bagatz to cancel a law, but it requires all 9 Judges to adjourn (which means that you need at least five supreme court judges to cancel a law).


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