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Legal Reform Bill Introduced, but It May Be Dead on Arrival

The Justice Ministry has proposed far-reaching changes to Israel’s legal system, which would establish the framework of a written constitution for the Jewish state.

But the measure, introduced in the Knesset this week with strong backing from Justice Minister Dan Meridor, was immediately opposed by the religious parties.

As long as they remain essential to government coalition-building, the new legislation can be considered dead on arrival, political experts said.

Israel has never had a written constitution, largely because the Orthodox religious establishment insists that the Scriptures are the only legitimate constitution.

Instead, the Knesset has enacted a number of “basic laws” over the years, which require a two-thirds majority to repeal.

The proposed legislation would strengthen the status of the basic laws already enacted. It would, for example, grant the High Court of Justice power to convene a nine-justice constitutional court that would have the authority to nullify laws passed by the Knesset if it decides that they contradict the “basic principles of the State of Israel.”

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