New Hope for Government and Judiciary
A strong, independent judicial system is a fundamental condition for democracy. With this, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Israeli democracy is in a decades-long crisis, emanating from the lack of true separation of governmental authorities, from absence of oversight, and lack of transparency. This environment is fertile ground for legislative and legal friction and operational paralysis.
For many years, the political system avoided resolving problems in the judicial system, and into this vacuum created entered forces that distorted the balance powers and the checks and balances needed for a healthy, stable, and functioning democracy.
The intent of Saar’s plan is to strengthen Israeli democracy through redefinition of the balance of power among the branches of government and the creation of checks and balances in the law enforcement system in order to ensure the Knesset’s freedom to legislate and Government’s ability to govern, while at the same time ensuring the independence and strength of the Court.
1. Splitting the job of the Legal Advisor (Yo’etz ha-Mishpati) to the Government
The Legal Advisor to the Israeli Government finds himself in an eternal conflict of interest that has no peer elsewhere in the world: he defends the Governmental ministers, and his directives are binding on them, yet in parallel he serves as the chief prosecutor. This unique model, that does not exist in any other Western democracy, must change.
New Hope will split the job of the Legal Advisor by establishing an independent prosecutorial mechanism and the appointment of a Legal Advisor who has no connection to criminal law enforcement.
This split will reduce the unlimited power of the Legal Advisor to the Government but will strengthen democracy and the cause of justice.
2. Strengthening the law overseeing the State Attorney and police prosecution
Law enforcement agencies have tremendous power over the individual in Israel. This power is vital for seeking justice and uncovering the truth, but it must be employed under equally powerful control and oversight in order to prevent abuse by government bodies of the authority in their hands.
New Hope will strengthen the existing oversight law and will insert into it tools that will enable effective and impactful critique, critique that is essential, among other things, for its ability to effect systemic changes in the State Attorney’s office and in the prosecutorial functions of the police.
3. Public confirmation hearings for nominees to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court judges have an enormous influence on molding the character of the State of Israel.
Because they are the ones interpreting the law, their worldview is a dominant factor, which influences their selection. Therefore, it is appropriate that the process of selecting candidates for judicial seats on Israel’s Supreme Court be maximally transparent.
New Hope will institute public hearings for candidates to the Supreme Court so that the public can learn about their views on matters affecting the entire fabric of life in our country.
4. Advancing a plan to enhance the rights of detainees, suspects, and the accused
It is difficult to overstate the existing power in the hands of law enforcement towards to private citizen in the country.
The authority to deploy the government’s power is needed for doing justice. But, with that, such deployment must be subject to an encompassing legal umbrella that defines and strengthens the rights of suspects, detainees, or the accused.
In the past few years, we are witnesses to an ever-increasing erosion of the presumption of innocence. The rights of detainees, suspects, and the accused are frequently violated. Often, it has appeared that the enforcement agencies took for themselves authorities that were not granted to them in order to increase pressure on suspects. These violations lead at best to a besmirching of reputations, but in the worst case to false convictions.
A government under the leadership of Gideon Saar will enact legislation for the rights of suspects, detainees, and the accused that will strengthen and safeguard their rights and address, among other things, the following issues: photographing suspects, authority for confiscation of and searching in cellular phones, incarceration conditions of detainees including interrogation rules, the prohibition to use illegally obtained proofs, etc.
5. Limiting the amount of time permitted for criminal investigations and prosecutorial decisions of criminal cases
The wait for the completion of police investigation can result in harm to the suspects honor and good name, his normal routines, his social standing, and income sources.
The principle is that every criminal proceeding needs to be completed within a reasonable period commensurate with the circumstances and complexity of the case. One must remember that the investigation is just the first stage of a criminal proceeding, after which there could come criminal legal processes that could go on for years.
New Hope will enact legislation that will define the various durations permitted for investigations, dependent upon the severity of the alleged crime and recognizing the differing complexities entailed in the investigation of offenses of various types.
6. Decriminalization in Israeli law
Israeli criminal law includes many offenses that are merely technical or administrative offenses in nature. This situation automatically categorizes thousands of citizens who have violated laws that are technical/administrative in nature as criminal offenders.
Criminal law, which severely limits the liberties of the individual, is supposed to deal only with substantial deviance from the law. In addition, the current situation hides within it significant costs in terms of police resources, the State Attorney’s Office, and the courts, and causes the stretching out of judicial processes in Israel.
New Hope will initiate a process of decriminalization through which certain offenses that appear under criminal law (such as business licensing, certain building/zoning violations, various financial topics, technical violations of missed required filings, etc.) will find their way administrative enforcement, not criminal enforcement. In this manner we will prevent the over-criminalization of normative citizens, we will save resources, and we will ease the burden on the court system.