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Possible effects of the judicial reform on immigration to Israel

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Morgan Jones

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How might the judicial reform affect Israeli immigration procedures? The judicial reform proposed in 2023 calls for significant changes in the Israeli legal system. If the reform passes in its current form, it may harm procedures of immigration and obtaining status in Israel, both by passing laws that deny rights currently reserved for Olim and immigrants, and in making it harder to interfere with governmental decisions that violate these rights.

The judicial reform has not yet been officially passed in Israel, and as of writing this article, it is unknown exactly what it will look like. However, in light of the fact that large parts of the reform are already in advanced legislative stages, there is great public concern about what the day after the reform will look like. As a firm specializing in Israeli immigration law, we have been receiving quite a few questions regarding the possible impact of the judicial reform on Israeli immigration procedures. Many people wonder whether the current rights to obtain legal status in Israel may be harmed due to the reform. In this article we will try to assess, with due caution, how rights in the field of Israeli immigration may be affected.

Judicial reform Israeli immigration

What are the changes expected as part of the proposed judicial reform?

The judicial reform, which as mentioned has not yet entered into force, proposes significant changes to the Israeli legal system. These changes include a serious limitation of the court’s ability to annul laws that the Knesset passes, or interfere with them. Also, changes are proposed in the procedure for appointing judges in Israel, as well as in the appointment and job definitions of the legal advisors in government ministries.

The most significant change in relation to the topic of this article is probably the cancellation of the reasonability standard. This is a legal principle which the high court (in its capacity as the Supreme Court) and the administrative courts use to exercise judicial review of decisions of the various authorities, including the Population and Immigration Authority of the Ministry of the Interior. In many cases, the reasonableness standard is used for the purpose of annulling decisions that harm certain citizens or the public as a whole. The reform proposes canceling the use of the reasonability standard for the purpose of annulling government decisions.

How might the reform harm applications for immigration and obtaining status in Israel?

One can think of quite a few possible ways in which the judicial reform would affect Israeli immigration procedures, thus harming the rights of Olim and immigrants. First, the proposed changes regarding the annulment of laws, along with the ability of the legal counsel to the government to intervene in legislative proceedings, may lead to the passing of laws that harm the ability to immigrate to Israel and to obtain legal status in Israel. At the same time, the changes would make it hard for the court to annul or interfere with these laws even when they violate basic rights.

In recent years, legislative initiatives have emerged whose purpose was to adversely affecting the rights of Olim and immigrants. One example is the initiatives to cancel the grandchild clause in the Law of Return, which currently states that grandchildren of Jews have the right to make Aliyah to Israel. Likewise, a legislative initiative that limits an oleh’s right to receive an Israeli passport was recently halted. It is not difficult to think of similar potential consequences, such as legislation that harms the rights of mixed couples (Israeli citizens and foreign citizens, or members of different religions), legislation that harms the rights of LGBT couples and obtaining status for foreign spouses in this respect, etc.

If the reform passes as planned, it can be assumed that judges appointed to the court by political appointments will generally tend to accept more of the government’s decisions, and thus it may be more difficult to win petitions to the court in cases where laws actually violate human rights. Beyond that, even when laws are not involved, it may be more difficult to interfere with government decisions and actions compared to the existing situation, due to the cancelation of the reasonability standard. If, as a hypothetical example, the employees of the Population and Immigration Authority behave in a discriminatory manner towards certain couples seeking to obtain status, it will be more difficult to appeal the decision, since it is unknown whether arguments that such decisions and actions constitute extreme unreasonability will be accepted.


As we have explained above, there is a real possibility that if the judicial reform goes through in its proposed form, it will have a negative impact on Israeli immigration procedures, in various ways. However, it is still impossible to know to what extent this will actually happen, since the reform is still in the legislative stages, and it is very possible that it will undergo changes. It is also difficult to estimate how severe the impact on Israeli immigration procedures will be, if the reform passes. Our office is closely monitoring the expected legislative changes, and as further developments occur, we will continue to provide updates on our website.

The judicial reform and its impact on immigration law – contact an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law

Above we have explained the judicial reform and its possible consequences on Israeli immigration procedures. If you have additional questions on the subject, or need any advice or assistance, we will gladly be at your service and provide you with comprehensive legal assistance. Our office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in the field of immigration and provides consulting and legal representation services in procedures for obtaining status in Israel, immigration to Israel, obtaining status for spouses and family members, and more. To contact an attorney specializing in immigration law from our office, click here.

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