The Internationalization of Israeli Law:
The Use of Supreme Court Petitions as a Political Tool by
For the study's abstract
In December 2009, the Institute for Zionist Strategies published a study exposing the activities of political organizations in Israel that receive funding from foreign governments, mostly in the guise of promoting education and human rights. This reality, enabling financing countries to interfere in Israel’s internal affairs outside the framework of accepted and legitimate diplomatic channels, often takes place without adequate disclosure and undermines the sovereignty of the State of Israel.
This present study, largely quantitative, is a follow-up study that describes how those organizations that present themselves as part of Israeli society, though operating with funding from foreign governments, influence the local public agenda by petitioning the Supreme Court. This comprehensive study, ranging over a full decade (2000-2009), argues that the petitioning process in and of itself is a significant tool for promoting political policies, even before and without regard to any ruling reached.
Because a legal system is fundamental to the functioning of democratic governance, it is critical to protect this institution from becoming a tool in the hands of external elements undisciplined and unbeholden to Israel’s democratic society and government. The involvement of foreign governments in internal Israeli issues through the Supreme Court undermines the sovereignty of the state, harms the universal axiom that courts not interfere in the political market place, vitiates the separation of powers, destabilizes the status of the elected bodies (the Knesset and the government), damages the efficacy and integrity of Israeli democracy and prevents the requisite preparation and deliberation by experts knowledgeable and experienced on the subject with recourse to comprehensive information and data.
The study has two main sections. First, it sets forth the various organizations, their prime legal operations and their agendas. The second part analyzes the public and legal activity and its origins and ramifications, using case studies of issues which are purely political, policy or security based, including: the supplying of fuel to the Gaza Strip; the IDF's targeted killings of terrorists; the decision who should become a citizen (the Citizenship Law); the decision whether and where the Security Fence should be built; the traffic and safety rules to be applied to Highway 443; determining the IDF's early warning procedure ("neighbor procedure"); and deciding whether the Jewish state can promote Jewish settlement (within the Green Line and beyond).
The goal of this study is to bring attention to the international politicization of internal Israeli issues by the exploitation of the legal system, which has become an arena of conflict and political decision making between factions, parties and organizations in Israel. The legal system, we contend, should steer clear of such considerations and it should operate according to the principle of separation of powers and under the core principles of democracy upon which Israel was established as a Jewish and democratic state.
For the study's abstract
This study is the first in a series of publications by the IZS that aim to prevent the unacceptable abuse of the Supreme Court by political organizations.