Public Law in Israel

By Itzhak Zamir; Allen Zysblat | Go to book overview
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President of the Supreme Court of Israel

The system of public law in Israel is based on the foundations of English law, incorporated into the law of this country during the thirty years of the British mandate. However, since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the legal system has felt itself to a great extent free to deviate from English law. It has striven to mould the law of the land to suit the special circumstances and needs of Israel. To this end we have used the principles of English common law to arrive at rules somewhat different from those prevailing in England.

Since its inception, Israel has been fortunate to absorb many lawyers trained in various legal systems. Some of them served in positions of leadership in the legislature, the government, and the judiciary. We have benefited from their knowledge and experience to learn about other systems of law, not only common law systems but also other European systems. Not only have we had resort to foreign systems of law, as a source of inspiration, but we have also had recourse to our rich heritage of Jewish law. We have thus developed some legal institutions and rules which are unique to Israel.

Israel is unique in other ways as well. Its people have gathered from the four corners of the world, many of them from countries which knew no democracy, to find themselves in a poor country, overburdened with severe economic and social problems, and threatened by surrounding neighbours. In spite of the constant pressure, Israel has always aspired to create an enlightened democracy. The task of promoting the principles of human dignity, freedom, and equality, and of establishing rules of fair government, fell largely to the Supreme Court. The Court has responded to the challenge.

The Supreme Court has been willing, especially in recent years, to hear and determine a vast range of social and political issues and to closely scrutinize almost all acts of virtually every public institution. It has substantially narrowed the scope of non-justiciable matters, demonstrating its


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Public Law in Israel
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