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Towards an Authoritarian–Tyrannical Regime and a State Governed (de facto) by Religious Law


Police officer on horse, protest, Jerusalem
Photo by Yossi Zamir, Shatil Stock

The public eye is focused on Rothman's horror show in the Constitution Committee and on changing the rules of the game through constitutional amendments to Basic Laws. The legislative scope of Netanyahu’s sixth government significantly exceeds all past governments, including the September 2015 fully right-wing government. This government also operates on a constitutional level through other channels, particularly a legislative process that indicates a Regime Coup on all five parameters of the Hungarian Protocol:


Status of the coup laws as of August 1, 2023:






Since Netanyahu's sixth government took office, 225 coup laws have entered the legislative process. Beyond the core changes to proper democratic governance through constitutional changes that the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is driving, dozens of other laws have been submitted that dramatically change the public sphere, personal way of life, and especially the democratic space. These proposed laws contain restrictions on individual basic freedom and restrictions on oversight bodies and the media, grant draconian powers to the police and the Minister of National Security, remove corruption–fighting restrictions on appointing processes, and dismantle, de facto, all professional merit requirements in the civil service.


These changes come in through preliminary bills, which permit bypassing the Knesset committees at the submission stage. They are placed on the Knesset agenda awaiting the legislative process so that they can be passed in a slew of legislation when the right time comes. Many of them go under the public’s radar.


Netanyahu's sixth government coalition is composed of Ultra-Orthodox, Nationalist and Jewish-Traditionalist parties.

The laws embody five major ideological moves:


Regime change - From a liberal democracy to an authoritarian-tyrannical regime; legislation that removes restrictions from the ruler – the Prime Minister – for example, the Incapacitation Law, the Gifts Law, and abolishing the Reasonableness Doctrine; legitimizing corrupt appointments at all levels without criteria – from appointing ministers to bypassing the professional ranks with arbitrary ministerial decisions; and granting increasing authority to the police and policing agencies that are directly subordinate to the Minister and the Prime Minister.


Turning Israel into a theocracy – Equating the rights of those who study Torah with those who serve in the IDF - Basic Law: Torah Study; recognizing Rabbinical Ordination as equivalent to academic degrees for civil service positions; dramatically increasing the budgets of mayors of ultra-Orthodox municipalities; and granting increased authority to rabbinical courts. All these bring Israel closer to becoming a backward theocracy, a state of Jewish supremacy.


Dramatic change in the status quo – Changes to Basic Laws, legislation, policies and budgeting effectively give the extremist rabbinical establishment immunity from state oversight, with huge, unprecedented funding. This grants religious extremist elements control, penetration, and supervision over the State Education System while allowing the State-Religious School System to operate independently, and to no longer be subject to the State Education System. Blatant religious coercion will also include granting further legal powers, in addition to marital and religious law, to rabbinical courts, which will significantly deteriorate women's status in Israel.


Imposing brutal limitations on gatekeepers such as the media, civil rights and civil society organizations, and legal oversight bodies like the Attorney General, Department of Investigation, and State Prosecutor's Office. Also, constraining academia, culture, and artistic expression.


In effect, eradicating professionalism and merit and turning the civil service into a politically appointed entity – mainly by making Ministry Legal Advisors political appointees while eliminating their authority to define the scope of a statutory ruling, and ignoring, or replacing them as the Minister may see fit. This could permeate the entire public sector – like involving the Shin Bet security agency in education, which will eventually lead to restricting teachers, researchers, and cultural figures if they express critical views.


Changing Election Rules – first and foremost, delegating greater power to the coalition (a retired judge will no longer head the election committee) and preventing High Court of Justice intervention. Thus, the coalition will be able to disqualify any party, particularly Arab parties, and approve any party it desires, primarily those with nationalist, racist, and anti-democratic leanings, at its discretion.

 

Summary of Bills according to the Hungarian Protocol + Select Examples


Political Scientists for Democracy Forum, 225 Laws

(Updated as of August 1, 2023)


Abolition of the independence of the Judiciary – 83 bills

Select examples:


● P/3464/25 – Proposed amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset (Amendment – Revoking the Supreme Court's Authority to intervene in Central Elections Committee decisions regarding the approval or disqualification of a candidate or a party to participate in the elections (Vaturi)

● P/2803/25 Proposed amendment to Civil Service Law (Appointments) Amendment – Appointment of Ministry Legal Advisors, the Attorney General, and the State Attorney (Amsalem)

● P/2801/25 – Proposed amendment to Basic Law: The Government (Amendment – Prohibits criminal investigation against a Prime Minister during Term of Office) (Amsalem)


Undermining Good Governance and Election Procedures – 26 Bills

Select examples:


● P/25/89 – Proposed amendment to Basic Law: The Government (Amendment – Direct Election for Prime Minister and distribution of seats to the coalition factions) (Eliyahu Revivo)

● P/3484/25 – Administrative Powers (Detentions and Restrictions) Bill (Temporary Order), 5723–2023 (Zvika Fogel)

● P/2671/25 – Proposed amendment to Local Authorities (Financing of Elections) Law (Amendment – Prohibition on accepting donations from Cooperative Communities,) 2023 (Vaturi)

Undermining of Human and Civil Rights – 55 Bills

Select examples:


● P/281/25 – Prohibition of flying the Palestinian Authority flag Bill, 5723–2022 (Yinon Azoulay)

● P/3290/25 – Proposed amendment to Penal Law (Amendment – Prohibition on Flying a Flag of an Enemy State or a Terrorist Organization or the Palestinian Authority in Public Spaces) 2023 ( Etty Hava Atiyeh)

● P/3476/25 – Proposed amendment to Prohibition of Holocaust Denial Law (Amendment – Prohibition of Comparison to the Deeds or Regime of the Nazis,) 2023 (Osher Shekalim, Kety Kathrin Shitrit, Sasson Sasi Guetta, Moshe Saada, Ofir Katz, Ariel Kellner, Tsega Malku, Zvika Fogel, Boaz Bismuth, Debbie Biton)

● P/3492/25 – Administrative Powers (Detentions and Restrictions) Bill (Temporary Order), 5723–2023 (Yitzhak Kreuzer)


Religious coercion, harm to minorities, women, LGBT people – 38 bills

Select examples:


● P/1498/25 – Proposed amendment to Bathing Places Regulation Bill (Amendment – Determination of places for separate gender bathing in National Park springs) 2023 (Moshe Gafni, Yaakov Asher)

● P/25/11 – Proposed amendment to Penal Law (Amendment – Expanding the definition of racism) 2022 (Yaakov Asher, Moshe Gafni)

● P/134/25 – Government Forms Adjustment Bill (Parental Information) 2022 (Yitzhak Pindrus, Avi Maoz)


Undermining Gatekeepers – Media, Academia, Civil Society Organizations, and the Arts – 25 Bills

Select examples:


● P/964/25 – Proposed amendment to The Council for Higher Education Law (Amendment – Prohibition on Flying the Flag of a Hostile Entity in a Recognized Institution,) 2022 (Hanoch Dov Milwidsky)

● P/175/25 – The privatization of Army Radio Bill, 5723–2022 (Tali Gottlieb)

● P/176/25 – The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation Privatization Bill, 2022 (Tali Gottlieb)

● P/3287/25 – Proposed amendment of the Israeli Center for the Advancement of Human Culture Law (Amendment – Regulation of parliamentary supervision of the Center and cancelation of tax exemption,) 2023 (Dan Illouz)


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Dr. Gayil Talshir is in the Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

and in Political Scientists for Israeli Democracy.


Contributed by Dr. Gayil Talshir to USA for Israeli Democracy.





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April 28, 2024

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