FACT-CHECK: Netanyahu on Balance of Powers

FACT-CHECK: Netanyahu on Balance of Powers

In an interview July 30 with Fox News, Netanyahu claimed that his judicial overhaul would actually strengthen Israeli democracy, by restoring a balance of power between the branches of government. In an interview today with NBC News, Netanyahu said, "I think correcting the imbalance in Israel's democracy, where the judiciary has basically arrogated to itself nearly all the powers of the executive branch and the legislature – I think yes it is important to do it... They'll see that Israel is just as democratic as it was before, and even more democratic."


Israel has few of the checks and balances present in the US system.

In the US, checks and balances include:

  • A written Constitution
  • An onerous process if one wants to amend the constitution (including two-thirds super-majority in the House, two-thirds super-majority in the Senate, and three-quarters supermajority in the States)
  • Bicameral power, with a House and a Senate both of which have powers, which are elected differently and at different time periods, and which don't need to be of the same party as each other, or that of the President
  • Presidential veto power
  • Federalist involvement, where the states have certain rights independent of the Federal government
  • A Supreme Court, which is not selected at the same time nor in the same manner as the President, House, and Senate

Israel has just the Knesset – which is, by definition, one partisan Coalition, and a Prime Minister – who comes from that same Coalition. The executive and legislative are effectively the same.

The Supreme Court is the only check and balance in the entire system.

The current judicial overhaul, rather than, as Netanyahu said, "restoring a balance of power between the branches of government," is removing the few vestiges of power in the only body (Israel's Supreme Court) capable of standing up to the already-overly powerful Knesset/Prime Minister.

Until Israel institutes a written Constitution, with support from all constituencies, the current government overhaul will do the exact opposite of strengthening Israeli democracy.