Мобильный 1 Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020December 2020January 2021February 2021March 2021April 2021May 2021June 2021July 2021August 2021September 2021October 2021November 2021December 2021January 2022February 2022March 2022April 2022May 2022June 2022July 2022
News Every Day |

Israel: Constitutional Revolution Without a Constitution

A general view shows the plenum at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, May 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

For many analysts and observers, one of the most striking features of the Israeli political and legal system is the lack of a written constitution.

Unlike the United States (whose 230-year-old constitution is venerated by most Americans) or France (which is currently on its 14th constitution), the State of Israel has no single document that enshrines the core principles upon which the state is founded, or codifies the basic rights enjoyed by all its citizens.

In this article, I’ll explore why Israel does not have a constitution, what the Jewish state has in lieu of such a crucial document, and whether there is an international precedent for a democratic country not having such a written charter for government.

On May 14, 1948, at a special session of the Provisional State Council (the legislative organ of the Jewish community in the Land of Israel), David Ben-Gurion read out the official text of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Beginning with “In the Land of Israel arose the Jewish People,” the Declaration described the history of the Jewish people’s connection to the Land, as well as the responsibilities which the newly declared state was accepting upon itself.

In the middle of the 10th paragraph, Ben-Gurion read aloud the words “In accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the elected Constituent Assembly no later than the 1st of October, 1948.” Thus, with the declaration of Israel’s independence, Ben-Gurion announced the newly founded state’s intention to adopt a constitution within the next six months.

However, subsequent events proved this deadline to be little more than wishful thinking. With the invasion of five Arab armies on May 15, the nascent state was thrown into a bitter war for survival.

With the entire country on a war footing, Israel was unable to hold regular elections for the Constituent Assembly, and the Provisional State Council was forced to retain its legislative powers until elections could be held.

With hostilities nearing an end, Israel was finally able to hold elections on January 25, 1949, and the Constituent Assembly was sworn in on February 3, 1949.

On February 16, 1949, after four meetings, the Constituent Assembly ratified the Transition Law and officially changed its name to the First Knesset.

Less than a year and a half later, the Knesset ratified the Harari Resolution, a legislative proposal that saw the responsibility for creating a constitution pass from the Knesset plenum to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. According to this proposal, the constitution would no longer be one cohesive written document, but would be composed of Basic Laws relating to national institutions and civil rights that would be individually ratified by the Knesset.

So, why did the First Knesset fail to adopt a constitution in the first two years of Israel’s existence?

The answer seems to be twofold: First, due to the diversity of political parties within the Knesset, there was a lack of parliamentary consensus on what to include within the constitution.

Second, the adoption of a written constitution did not even enjoy widespread support within the government.

One of the most vocal opponents of the constitution project was David Ben-Gurion (now Israel’s prime minister), who felt that the legislature’s time would be better spent focused on external threats, immigration, the development of infrastructure and the settling of the Negev Desert.

Between 1950 and 1991, the Knesset ratified nine Basic Laws. During that period, the Basic Laws were not considered the supreme law of the land and, unless they contained an entrenchment clause, could be overturned by new legislation that could pass the Knesset by a simple majority vote.

Then, in the early 1990s, the Knesset passed two Basic Laws related to human rights: Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992) and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (1994). What set these two Basic Laws apart from all their predecessors is that they contained identical limitations clause, which stated that any violation of the rights contained within the laws could only be undertaken “by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required.”

According to an argument developed by Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak that was later adopted by other members of Israel’s high court, the passage of these Basic Laws had caused a “constitutional revolution” in Israel. From then on, the Basic Laws took on the role of a written constitution that the Supreme Court would uphold via judicial review of Knesset legislation.

In effect, the Supreme Court now had the authority to strike down Knesset legislation that did not conform with the values expressed in Basic Laws.

Although some Israeli jurists and legal scholars opposed this far-reaching interpretation of the Supreme Court’s role, the “constitutional revolution” continues to influence the activities of the high court and the Knesset to this day.

Since 1950, the Knesset has passed 14 Basic Laws that relate to Israeli institutions and individual liberties. Some notable Basic Laws are:

Basic Law: The Knesset (1958): Details the procedures and logistics connected to the functioning of the Israeli parliament as well as national elections.

Basic Law: The Military (1976): Details laws related to the IDF, including enlistment, the role of the Chief of Staff, and the subordination of the military to the civilian government.

Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992): Details the human rights granted to all Israeli citizens, including privacy, right to property, freedom to travel, and human dignity.

Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (1994): Details the right of every Israeli citizen to engage in any profession or occupation.

As mentioned above, the fact that Israel does not have a single constitution makes it a rarity within the international community. However, it is not alone.

Although it is uncommon, there are other countries that also do not have a single cohesive written governing charter. Three such countries are the robust democracies of the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. Each of these countries’ fundamental principles of political organization and balances of power are composed of both written documents as well as unwritten laws that are given constitutional weight by their respective judiciaries.

Although Israel does not have a written single-document constitution, this has not affected Israel’s development as a strong and healthy democracy. Between the rights codified in Israel’s Basic Laws and the vibrant relationship between Israel’s legislative and judicial branches, Israel continues to set itself apart as one of the most vigorous and flourishing democracies in the world.

The adoption of a written single-document constitution by a future Knesset will only continue this strong democratic tradition.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

Read also

Ramakrishna Puligandla (1930-2022)

I have big boobs – 10 fashion mistakes to avoid with a big bust, some just add extra bulk

Domestic housing sector set to grow in next 5 years: PNB Housing Finance

Прямой эфир РБК. Главные новости России и мира сегодня (Прямой эфир ежедневно)

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

‘Our strong bond was the most special part’: top-10 Badminton horse dies, aged 25

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here

News Every Day

‘Our strong bond was the most special part’: top-10 Badminton horse dies, aged 25

Sports today

Новости тенниса

Алькарас легко пробился в 1/8 финала «Уимблдона»

Спорт в России и мире

«Спартак» обыграл «Енисей» в товарищеском матче


All sports news today


Sports in Russia today


Ульяновские спортсменки завоевали медали на чемпионате России по гребле

Новости России

Game News

Россияне решили вдохнуть новую жизнь в Ереванский ботанический сад



Решение по «Сахалину-2» застало Японию врасплох на фоне аномальной жары и энергокризиса

Губернаторы России

Тройка от питерских: как «Зенит» разгромил ЦСКА в контрольном матче

В ГИБДД предложили Минздраву составить реестр препаратов, запрещающих садиться за руль

Александр Максимов: На съезде предстоит серьёзная и интенсивная работа

Мумие для здорового питания

Врач Евдокимов назвал способы спасти позвоночник при долгой работе за компьютером

Константин Затулин назвал предсказуемым решение НАТО назвать Россию главной угрозой безопасности

Живет на последнее: у Андрея Макаревича кончаются деньги в Израиле

Звёздные артисты поют для «солнечных» детей: Прохор Шаляпин, Эвелина Блёданс, Наташа Королёва, Михаил Гребенщиков в новом детском спектакле «Осторожно – улица!»

Баста о дебюте Овечкина в футболе: к сожалению, я могу просто смешно бегать

Уимблдон увольняет сотрудников на фоне самой низкой за 15 лет посещаемости

"Челси" заинтересован в Зинченко

Уимблдон. Карлос Алькараз отдал сопернику шесть геймов в третьем раунде соревнований

Уимблдон. Стефанос Циципас не справился с Ником Киргиосом

Лукашенко отверг возможность ядерного шантажа со стороны Минска и Москвы

Мать Гогена Солнцева умерла после операции по ампутации ноги

Россияне решили вдохнуть новую жизнь в Ереванский ботанический сад

Лукашенко призвал РФ приготовиться к зеркальному ответу на агрессию Запада

Когда и как оформить Fan ID?

Том Круз, Брюс Уиллис и самые крутые киногерои – в эти выходные на ТВ-3

Семак внедряет Бакаева в основу «Зенита». Получается ярко, но вопросов хватает

Команда «Тула» победила «Сибирь» в матче третьего этапа «Матч ТВ Кубок Победы» в Казани | ТСН24

Экстремальный молодежный забег «Наследники Победы» собрал в Подмосковье 1,5 тысячи человек

В "Сочи" призвали не переживать из-за отсутствия у главного тренера Гаранина лицензии PRO

Гжель тебе не хохлома! Как сегодня выживают народные промыслы?

Победителей клинского VIII фестиваля флористики и дизайна «Вальс цветов» объявят в августе

Путин в России и мире

Персональные новости


Z-Кола: В Ростовской области нашли замену американской Coca Cola

News Every Day

Briedis vs Opetaia: Live updates and results, 5 am ET

Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости
"Воскресенье " Олег Митяев

Персональные новости
Близкий друг Путина миллиардер Пугачев. Вся правда о Путине, его семье и деньгах. В гостях у Гордона (2021)

Навальный об уволенном за пост священнике (2021)

Slava Marlow – суперуспех и депрессия в 21 год / вДудь (2021)

Обнаглевшие дети путинской элиты (2021)

Дайте собакам мяса (новый звук) -Владимир Высоцкий

Группа "Рождество" - песня "Так хочется жить!" (Видео с концерта в Киеве группы "РОЖДЕСТВО" в 2011 году в Доме офицеров)

Adriano Celentano Любимая песня Челентано (высочайшая энергетика) talentTV