Basic Laws

Basic Laws - Introduction

Since the Constituent Assembly and the first Knesset were unable to put a constitution together, the Knesset started to legislate basic laws on various subjects. After all the basic laws will be enacted, they will constitute together, with an appropriate introduction and several general rulings, the constitution of the State of Israel.

Following the adoption of the Harari proposal in 1950, work began on the legislation of the basic laws, the first of which - the Basic Law: the Knesset, which was initiated by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee - was adopted by the third Knesset.

Regarding the question of the superiority of the basic laws over other laws, there are differences of opinion. Some claim that the basic laws are not superior to an ordinary law, unless they include a specific stipulation to the contrary. These base their position on the argument that since a basic law is passed by an ordinary majority (i.e. a majority of those voting), such a majority cannot grant superior status to a piece of legislation. Others claim that the superiority of basic laws stems from the fact that they are the product of the Knesset acting as the Constituent Assembly, and that from their mere definition as "basic laws" one may conclude that they are constitutionally superior.

What happens when there is a contradiction between a basic law and an ordinary law passed after the basic law was passed? The answer to this question hasn't yet been given in any law (the Basic Law: Legislation will deal with it), but the High Court of Justice has, in recent years, related to it in several rulings: On September 24, 1997, the HCJ with a make-up of 11 judges cancelled in a precedental ruling several instructions in the law for regulating the occupation of investment consultancy. In the opinion of the High Court, they contradict the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation "to a degree which supercedes that required to realize the goal of the law." On October 14, 1999, the HCJ ruled, once again with a make-up of 11 judges, that an article in a law, which contradicted the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, was null and void. The article in question was article 237a(a) of the Military Judgement Law, that enabled a military policeman to detain a soldier for four days without first bringing him before a judge.

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