February 24, 2023 — New York
In a call with American Jewish Committee (AJC) leaders from across the United States, AJC CEO Ted Deutch made the following remarks:
At the outset of this process, AJC expressed to Israeli leaders, to the Israeli public, and to our own leadership our strong belief that any changes to Israel’s judicial system should be the result of a deliberative, inclusive process that maintains checks and balances and respects minority rights and civil liberties. The legislation that has moved forward in the Knesset thus far, and the way in which it has been advanced, falls short both substantively and procedurally.
We remain encouraged by President Herzog’s efforts to convene a dialogue and find compromise, and we hope that all parties will heed his call.
AJC acknowledges the differences in the structure of the judicial system between Israel and the United States. In the United States, we have a constitution that protects minority rights and civil liberties, and making changes in the country’s basic political and legal structures is intentionally difficult, with procedural hurdles and requirements of a supermajority. We are encouraged by President Herzog’s proposal that acknowledges the special status of Israel’s Basic Laws and the need to prevent a simple majority of the Knesset from making changes that would jeopardize minority rights and civil liberties.
AJC also acknowledges the difference between the way judges are appointed in Israel and in the United States and other democracies, and we are encouraged by President Herzog’s efforts to seek compromise on the means of judicial appointments.
AJC’s approach from the start has focused on the importance of the protection of minority rights and civil liberties that are rooted in the principles set forth in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, that the State of Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”
We believe in Israel’s vibrant democracy, which has been on full display throughout the course of this debate. AJC will continue to express our views clearly and directly with Israeli leaders on both sides of the debate, as stalwart friends and supporters of Israel.