Prof. Paul Eidelberg
There is much misunderstanding in the Diaspora and even in Israel about the nature of Israel’s political system, which is less a system than a montage.
Unlike almost all democracies, Israel has no written constitution. Instead, it has a variety of ad hoc “Basic Laws” that have been passed at different times and by different Governments.
Israel’s first Basic Law, entitled, Basic Law: The Knesset, was enacted in 1958, ten years after the founding of the State. Some other Basic Laws are The President of the State (1964); The Government (1968); and The Judiciary (1984).
Strange as it may seem, Basic Laws are enacted by ordinary legislative procedures. Basic Law: The Knesset was initiated by the Knesset Law Committee. Other Basic Laws have been sponsored by the Government (i.e. the Cabinet) or by private members. Basic Law: State Economy (1975) was sent to the Finance Committee, not the Law Committee!
What, then, is “basic” about a Basic Law? It’s not easy to say. To be “basic,” a Basic Law must be passed by an absolute majority of Israel’s 120-member Knesset. But countless laws enacted by a Knesset majority are not labeled “Basic.”