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The Reasonableness Doctrine in the Service of the Defense System

The reasonableness Doctrine as body armor for IDF officers and for Israel's status in the world.

Military protests Israel
Photograph by Gil Levin, Shatil Stock

Reasonableness Doctrine in the Service of the Defense System: The reasonableness Doctrine as body armor for IDF officers and for Israel's status in the world.

On July 19, 2023 the Headquarters of the Campaign for a Free and Democratic Israel, held an emergency Zoom meeting on the topic of “Reasonableness in the Service of the Defense System: The reasonableness Doctrine as body armor for IDF officers and for Israel's status in the world.”


The panel was moderated by former Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber and with the participation of the following speakers:

Moshe Bogie Ya'alon, former Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff

Dan Halutz, former Chief of Staff and Commander of the Israeli Air Force

MK Yoav Segalovitz, Yesh Atid party, former Deputy Minister of National Security, former Head of the Investigations and Intelligence Department of the Israel Police

Attorney Yaron Kramer, Brothers and Sisters in Arms

Attorney Nadav Weissman, Black Robes

Professor Yuval Shani, former vice president, The Israel Democracy Institute

Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman, senior researcher, The Institute for National Security Studies

Professor Amichai Cohen, senior researcher, The Israel Democracy Institute

Professor Yaniv Roznai, co-director, Rubinstein Center for Constitutional Challenges

Attorney Amit Becher, Head of The Israel Bar Association

Below are the main points:

Attorney Nadav Weissman:

“The whole subject of orders for opening fire at the border, of opening fire in Gaza, of settlement in the territories is examined today through the Reasonableness Doctrine. If the law passes, this will no longer exist. The independence of the judicial system will be damaged and its status will be weakened. Will it be possible to summon IDF commanders, soldiers, and pilots to The Hague? The answer is yes.”

Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman:

“Soldiers’ ability to depend on a functioning democratic system allows commanders in the field to rely on the legality of missions. From the moment it is no longer possible to depend on the judicial system, the trend of non-volunteering is obvious. Announcing an end to volunteering in order to protect Israel’s democratic identity is truly a doomsday weapon, but when doomsday comes, we indeed use it.”

Former Chief of Staff Moshe Bogie Ya'alon:

“I regret the Chief of Staff’s statement regarding the halting of volunteering, and I do not envy the place he’s in, under a political echelon that has rendered itself illegitimate."

“Every IDF soldier and state leader is exposed to prosecution at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. I have made thousands of life and death decisions, in both my military service, from soldier to chief of staff, and as minister of defense. I have been described by elements hostile to us as a “war criminal,” an arrest warrant was issued against me in England, and I have avoided traveling to Belgium and Spain. A civil suit was filed against me in District Court in Washington, D.C. The judge rejected the suit outright on the grounds that there was an independent judicial authority in the State of Israel, and they would not judge me for an offense that could be tried in the Israeli justice system if the need arose. In the same way, a frivolous demand by the New Zealand Attorney General who sought to arrest me was rejected outright. In each of these cases, the recognition by legal authorities around the world of our independent justice system protected me.”

Brothers and sisters in arm protest for Israel
Kumeran Brothers. Photographed by Gil Levin, Shatil Stock.

Attorney Amit Becher:

“The coalition's desperation to promote such an extreme and one-sided version of the legislation leaves no room for doubt that there are no practical motives here; the only goal is to fundamentally change the system of government of the State of Israel as we’ve known it until today. There is a huge difference between trying to incline the court in a more progressive or more conservative direction and what we’re seeing in the Knesset. If this extreme group succeeds in its mission, the status of the court will be so forcefully damaged that it will affect every soldier, every citizen.”

Professor Amichai Cohen:

“There is an increase in the use of universal authority in European countries, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. The potential damage to the power of the Israeli legal system due to the abolishment of the Reasonableness Doctrine significantly increases the risk of the use of universal authority in the case of Israel as well.”

Professor Yuval Shani:

“International law is based on the idea that it is applied in international or foreign forums when there is no state system working effectively. The test is whether there is an independent system that can handle incidents in which suspicions arise against state bodies. Until today, it should be said that in the Israeli context there is an impressive balance. All cases targeted at us have been closed."

“The worry is that the reform and the elimination of the Reasonableness Doctrine will cause the rope to snap — the status of our legal system will be greatly damaged.”

Former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz:

“Pilots who go out on a mission trust that the squadron commander, the commander of the air force, the chief of staff, the Mossad, the Shin Bet — everyone involved — have done everything to make sure that the goal is ethical and appropriate. Everything is built on trust. The army trusts and counts on our judicial system, it depends on it and rightly so. Suits were also filed against me in foreign countries, but we were cleared of guilt. Israeli law is the ultimate protective cover. Damage to it would be a disaster for the people’s army.”

Attorney Yaron Kramer:

“I think the chief of staff is in a very difficult position. But I expect him to look at us directly, at all these patriotic reservists who are torn up inside and in tears right now; to stop volunteering is a very difficult move, it tears us up inside. But the government is leaving us no choice. The thread that has connected the nation for decades is going to snap. That’s something that won’t be mendable. It will reach the army, all avenues of the army, not just volunteers.”

MK Yoav Segalovitch:

“In general, the security system is protected by the judicial system; that’s the real iron dome that covers all of us from international organizations. So this legislation actually harms national security, harms IDF soldiers.”

Professor Yaniv Roznai:

“Democracies do not collapse all at once. Abolishing the Reasonableness Doctrine is really opening the door to the continuation of the regime coup, it’s an opening move in the creation of imperial politics."

“All of us have to remember that when we talk about security matters, in the army and certainly in the territories, every soldier has to carry the rules of administrative law in their backpack, therefore a diminution of administrative law will affect every soldier's backpack.”

1 Comment

Unknown member
Jul 23, 2023

Was there a pro-reformist on the panel? Aren't some of the panelists like Dan Halutz, for example, advoating violent overthrow of the government?


April 28, 2024

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