Israel Earth Guardians - Democracy


 Supporting Israel's Democracy & Courts, Pivotal to Environmental Justice

Israel Earth Guardians (Shomrei Habayit) spearheaded the opposition by Israel’s environmental movement against the judicial overhaul, organizing almost weekly protests outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Caesarea home. The current war has halted further implementation of the proposed judicial changes and Israel’s Supreme Court has also struck down the reasonability clause, but the threat remains.

So what’s the connection between the judicial reform & the environment?

The proposed judicial changes threaten key elements safeguarding our environment, health, and the checks and balances inherent to just and effective governing. If implemented, these changes will critically obstruct our legal battles against environmental offenders. Moreover, polluting tycoons will expand their power and influence even further. 

This is why Israel Earth Guardians, although entirely apolitical, opposes the proposed judicial changes. No less than our country’s democracy, environment, public health, and far more are at stake. 


 1) Limited legal standing

According to the proposed legal changes, only ‘direct’ victims of injustices will be able to petition. This ruling will dramatically impede the ability of civil organizations to petition on behalf of the public or environment, as Shomrei Habayit has done successfully on numerous occasions.

 2) Weakened Legal Advisors

Ministers currently receive counsel from advisors operating under the Justice Ministry. The proposed legal changes would enable ministers to appoint their own legal advisors. In this scenario, advisors would be indebted to the ministers for their jobs, creating a wide opening for corruption, embezzlement of public funds, improper interference in tenders, and the appointment of cronies. These changes could impact public health and lives. Moreover, advisors will only be able to issue advice rather than legally binding opinions. For instance, a minister could approve a faulty and dangerous emissions permit for the Trans-Israel Oil Pipeline, despite objections by the Ministry of Environment’s legal advisor.

 3) Free Media? Gone.

The judicial reform could eliminate Israel’s free media. Channel 11 – which features in-depth, courageous investigations by journalists like Yifat Glick, Avi Amit, and others on environmental issues and government capital – may be closed or weakened. The Ha’aretz newspaper, featuring articles by leading journalists Zavrir Rinat, Nir Hasson, Netta Ahituv, and Lee Yaron – will stop receiving government ads, thus weakening the paper. Moreover, journalists of all media will be forbidden to use recordings to expose wrongdoings

 4) The Government Will Determine Our Judges

The government will have a de facto majority in nominating Supreme Court judges, and it will be impossible to stop the nomination of judges with an anti-environment agenda. For example, the government could appoint a lawyer that formerly represented a fossil fuel company, such as the Trans-Israel Oil Pipeline, whose relationships with and lenient attitude towards polluting parties could determine our fate, no less.

Israel Earth Guardians - Democracy

 5) The Override Clause will Further Restrict the Court

The government will be able to overturn any Supreme Court decision with a majority of only 61 MKs out of Israel’s 120-member parliament. This ruling will allow the Knesset to re-enact laws that the court invalidated. For instance, say we petitioned and changed a section in the Climate Law, making it mandatory for government ministries to prepare for the climate crisis. Parliament could then step in to cancel this hard-earned achievement. Moreover, the absence of legal breaks will enable an unbridled legislative blitz that could include rulings that are both offensive to the public and critically violate its rights.

 6) Limited Revocation of Laws

The court could only prevent itself from being overruled if its judges unanimously agreed that a (parliamentary) ruling must be revoked. However, this would be highly unlikely given the proposal that the government determines our judges! For instance, the government could enact a fundamental law, such as one dealing with energy, that would not require distancing a polluting electricity plant or oil refinery from population centers. In other words, residents would be exposed to heavily industrialized, disease-inducing conditions without legal recourse.

 7) Steep Taxes will Hit Non-Profit Fundraising

The legal changes propose strict taxation of donations from foreign governments (at a rate of 65%) without the possibility of any exemptions or deductions.

Many environmental organizations rely on donations from abroad. We have only the public to rely on, and we truly need your help.

Without today's existing legal tools and a strong and functioning democracy, we cannot win the environmental battles endangering us all.
We cannot abandon the field to big polluters whose deep pockets and connections hold powerful influence over decision-makers.

Israel Earth Guardians - Democracy

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