Basic Laws of Israel

Basic Laws of Israel

Overview
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights. While these laws were originally meant to be draft chapters of a future Israeli constitution, they are already used on a daily basis by the courts as a formal constitution.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Basic Laws of Israel'
Start a new discussion about 'Basic Laws of Israel'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights. While these laws were originally meant to be draft chapters of a future Israeli constitution, they are already used on a daily basis by the courts as a formal constitution. Israel currently functions according to an uncodified constitution consisting of both material constitutional law, based upon cases and precedents, and the provisions of these formal statutes. As of today, the Basic Laws do not cover all constitutional issues, and there is no deadline set to the completion of the process of merging them into one comprehensive constitution. There is no clear rule determining the precedence of Basic Rules over regular legislation, and in many cases this issue is left to the interpretation of the judicial system.

Background


The State of Israel was supposed to adopt a formal written constitution a few months after its declaration of independence on 14 May 1948. The declaration itself states that a constitution should be formulated and adopted no later than 1 October 1948. Adoption of a democratic constitution was also a demand of the General Assembly Resolution 181, which proposed the establishment of a "Jewish state". The State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 failed to adopt a formal constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

. While the deadline stated in the declaration of independence proved unrealistic in light of the war which went on between the new state and its neighboring countries, general elections
Israeli legislative election, 1949
Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held in newly independent Israel on 25 January 1949. Voter turnout was 86.9%. Two days after its first meeting on 14 February 1949, legislators voted to change the name of the body to the Knesset...

 were arranged on 25 January 1949, in order to elect the Constituent Assembly which would approve the new state's constitution. The Constituent Assembly convened on February 1949. It held several discussions about the constitution which soon reached a dead end.

Several arguments were proposed against the adoption of a formal constitution. The Religious Jews at the time opposed the idea of their nation having a document which the government would regard as nominally "higher" in authority than religious texts such as the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, and Shulkhan Arukh. Therefore, after only four meetings, the Constituent Assembly adopted on 16 February 1949 the Transition Law, by means of which it became the "First Knesset". The Knesset is, therefore, a Sovereign Parliament, like the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that is not bound by a formal Constitution. Because the Constituent Assembly did not prepare a Constitution for Israel, the Knesset is the heir of the Assembly for the purpose of fulfilling this function.

The Harari Decision


In 1950, the first Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 came to what was called the Harari Decision
Yizhar Harari
-Biography:Harari was born in Jaffa, then under Ottoman rule. He studied political science and journalism at the University of Paris and then law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and economics and political science in London, and was certified as a lawyer. In 1933, he worked as a journalist...

. Rather than draft a full constitution immediately, they would postpone the work, charging the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee with drafting the document piecemeal. Each chapter would be called a Basic Law, and when all had been written they would be compiled into a complete constitution.

In 1998, Aharon Barak
Aharon Barak
Aharon Barak is a Professor of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a lecturer in law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Yale Law School, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law....

, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 declared a "constitutional revolution" and attached constitutional ascendancy to the Basic Laws of Israel. The basic laws are various pieces of legislation from the Knesset that outline the nation's political structure.

Between 1958 and 1988 the Knesset passed nine Basic Laws, all of which pertained to the institutions of state. In 1992, it passed the first two Basic Laws which related to rights and basis of the Supreme Court's recently declared powers of judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

. These are Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (Israel)
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is a Basic Law, intended to protect main human rights in Israel. The view of most Supreme Court judges, is that the enactment of this law and of Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation began the Constitutional Revolution, due to the fact the Knesset gave these two laws...

, and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation. These were passed by votes of 32–21 and 23–0, respectively.

List of the Basic Laws of Israel

Year passed Basic Law Description
1958 The Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

States legislative functions of the house of representatives of the state.
1960 Israel Lands Ensures state lands remain national property.
1964 The President of the State Deals with status, election, qualifications, powers, and procedures of work of the President of the State.
1968 The Government
Basic Law: The Government
Basic Law: The Government is a Basic Law, first legislated in the Sixth Knesset, on 13 August 1968...

(Replaced by the 1992 law and then restored, with amendments, by the 2001 law)
1975 The State Economy Regulates payments made by and to the State. Authority to mint currency.
1976 The Military Upholds constitutional and legal basis for the operation of the Israel Defense Forces. Subordinates military forces to the government, deals with enlistment, and states that no extra-legal armed force outside the Israel Defense Forces may be set up or maintained.
1980 Jerusalem Law
Jerusalem Law
The Jerusalem Law is a common name of Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel passed by the Knesset on July 30, 1980 .It began as a private member's bill proposed by Geula Cohen, whose original text stated that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem in its boundaries after the Six-Day War...

Establishes the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; secures the integrity and unity of Jerusalem; deals with holy places; secures rights of members of all religions; grants special preference with regards to development.
1984 The Judiciary Deals with authority, institutions, principle of independence, openness, appointment, qualifications, and powers of judiciary.
1988 The State Comptroller Deals with the powers, tasks, and duties of supervisor of government bodies, ministries, institutions, authorities, agencies, persons, and bodies operating on behalf of the state.
1992 Human Dignity and Liberty
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (Israel)
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is a Basic Law, intended to protect main human rights in Israel. The view of most Supreme Court judges, is that the enactment of this law and of Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation began the Constitutional Revolution, due to the fact the Knesset gave these two laws...

Declares basic human rights in Israel are based on the recognition of the value of man, the sanctity of his life and the fact that he is free. Defines human freedom as right to leave and enter the country, privacy (including speech, writings, and notes), intimacy, and protection from unlawful searches of one's person or property. This law includes instruction regarding its own permanence and protection from changes by means of emergency regulations.
1992 The Government
Basic Law: The Government
Basic Law: The Government is a Basic Law, first legislated in the Sixth Knesset, on 13 August 1968...

Provides for direct election of Prime Minister at time of Knesset elections. Deals with principles of service of Prime Minister, formation and function of government, qualifications for ministers. (Replaced by the 2001 law)
1992 Freedom of Occupation The law lays down the right of "every citizen or inhabitant to engage in any occupation, profession or trade" unless "a law which corresponds with the values of the State of Israel, and which was designed for a worthy end" determines otherwise. (Replaced by the 1994 law)
1994 Freedom of Occupation Guarantees every Israel national or resident's "right to engage in any occupation, profession or trade". Any violation of this right shall be "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."
2001 The Government
Basic Law: The Government
Basic Law: The Government is a Basic Law, first legislated in the Sixth Knesset, on 13 August 1968...

Overturns the 1992 law, and restores the 1968 system with some amendments.

See also

  • Law of Return
    Law of Return
    The Law of Return is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship...

  • Israeli nationality law
    Israeli nationality law
    Israel's nationality law defines the terms through which one can be granted citizenship of the state of Israel. It also includes the Right of return for Jewish diaspora...

  • Law of Israel
  • Land and Property laws in Israel
    Land and Property Laws in Israel
    Land and property laws in Israel provide a legal framework which governs land and property issues in Israel. At its establishment, Israel continued to apply the pre-existing Ottoman and British land law...

  • Basic Law: The Government
    Basic Law: The Government
    Basic Law: The Government is a Basic Law, first legislated in the Sixth Knesset, on 13 August 1968...

  • Moshe Koppel
    Moshe Koppel
    Moshe Koppel is an Israeli-American computer scientist, Talmud scholar and political activist.Koppel was born and raised in New York City, where he received a traditional Orthodox Jewish education. He received a B.A. from Yeshiva University and a doctorate in mathematics from the Courant Institute...


External links