A Constitution for the State of Israel – Introduction
At the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, the Constituent Assembly was appointed the task of establishing a constitution no later than October 1, 1948. As is known, the War of Independence and various political objections prevented the completion of the establishment procedure from being completed until today. In 1950, the Knesset accepted a compromise presented by MK Harari, stating that the Constitution would be written one chapter at a time and that the chapters would eventually be combined into a complete and coherent Constitution. These laws are known as Basic Laws.
During the first decades of the State, the Knesset passed nine Basic Laws that dealt with the structure and authority of the government. For example – Basic Law: The Government, Basic Law: Judgment, etc. In 1992, The Knesset passed two Basic Laws that dealt, for the first time, with human rights – Basic Law: Freedom of Profession and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Three years later, in 1995, the Supreme Court declared a legal revolution in the Mizrahi Court Case and established that Knesset laws may be nullified on the condition that they harm the rights granted in the Basic Laws.
As the years passed, various Constitution drafts were proposed by academics, lawyers and more. The 16th Knesset attempted to fulfill Harari’s decree and began conducting discussions regarding the establishment of an entire constitution. Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Michael Eitan, assembled numerous meetings and discussed various matters pertaining to a future Constitution. At the close of that Knesset’s term, a formulated draft was submitted by the committee to be continued by the 17th Knesset.
In preparation for the opening of the 17th Knesset, academics, statesmen, judges, rabbis and other public figures gathered together at the Institute for Zionist Strategies and formulated a complete Constitution proposal for the State of Israel. This proposal is detailed and contains the various components vital to a constitution. This Constitution emphasizes the sections defining the State of Israel as the National Home for the Jewish People and contains significant reforms regarding the relationship between the Judicial Branch and the Legislative and Executive Branches of government. The Constitution Team members are: Prof. Avi Diskin, Prof. Moshe Koppel, Prof. Berachyahu Lifshitz, Judge Uri Shtruzman (Retired), Rabbi Dov Be’eri, Dr. Yitzhak Klein, Yoel Golovensky, Attorney and Mr. Israel Harel.
In June 2006, the Institute for Zionist Strategies submitted its Constitution Proposal, entitled “A Constitution for the State of Israel”, to the Knesset and to the President of the State of Israel. The Constitution Committee attended the deliberation meetings held by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the 17th Knesset, led by MK Menahem Ben-Sasson. For a year afterwards, a number of position papers were submitted, and Team members played a dominant role in the committee, specifically in the intensive discussions regarding the clauses concerning the Jewish identity of the State.
In this section, you will find Prof. Avi Diskin’s concise description of various potential constitutions and the central issues touched upon in a constitution. The Constitution Proposal written by the Institute for Zionist Strategies and an analysis of its key sections as well as adescription of the IZS Constitution Committee’s primary activities during the 17th Knesset.