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The Israeli judicial reform protests have brought Israel to the brink of social collapse. So what does the lack of a constitution have to do with it?

Although Israel planned to adopt a constitution by October 1948, several factors caused the leaders of the country to indefinitely delay it. Now, 75 years later, the country continues to function without one. Over the years, different opinions have been raised about the importance of a constitution, which continues to be a point of controversy today. 

To date, the closest Israel has gotten was creating the Harari Resolution. This resolution has been guiding Israel to build a constitution law by law over time as the country evolves. This started with the creation of the Knesset and continued with essential laws about citizenship and human rights which may eventually become Israel’s first constitution. 

However, today, because there is no constitutional law regarding checks and balances of power, both pro-reform and anti-reform citizens fear that one institution (the Knesset or the Supreme Court) will gain too much control with regards to the direction the country will take.

Big Ideas

  • Israel’s founders did not write a constitution, disagreeing over what a constitution would look like and whether Israel needed one at all.
  • In place of a constitution, Israel adopted individual Basic Laws which are meant to serve a similar purpose.
  • Debate persists in Israel over fundamental questions such as the functions of the government, the goals and values of the country, and what it means to be a Jewish state.

Essential Questions

  • Does Israel need a constitution or can the country survive without one?
  • Would it be possible for Israel to create a constitution that would help unify citizens under a national identity? 
  • What does it mean for Israel to be a Jewish state?

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