Features – Guide to the Israeli Legal System – Updated

Ruth Levush is a Senior Legal Specialist at the Eastern Law Division, Directorate of Legal Research, Law Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA. She is responsible for responding to all Congressional requests for research and analysis in Israeli law. Some issues include: Compensation for Victims of Terrorist Actions: Israel as a Case Study, The Legal Status of Jerusalem, Water Rights in the Middle East, Campaign Financing in Foreign Countries, Legislative Ethics in Democratic Countries: Financial Standards, Regulation of Lobbying, Israeli Implementation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Cultural Rights, Health Care Systems, Israel: Extradition Law – Its Evolution and the Effects of the Sheinbein Case. Prior to her employment at the Law Library of Congress Ms. Levush held attorney positions in the Israeli public and private sector. Ms. Levush graduated from Tel-Aviv University Law School, Ramat-Aviv, Israel, in March 1981 with LL.B., and the George Washington University, National Law Center, Washington, D.C., with a Master of Comparative Law (American Practice- Post J.D.) in May 1988. She is currently a member of the District of Columbia Bar and was an active member of the Israeli Bar when residing in that country.

Current additions and changes are indicated by (green background color) for easy identification.

Table of Contents

The Israeli Legal System – Introduction
Chief Characteristics of the System
The Absence of a Single-Document Written Constitution
Supremacy of the Law
Central Status of the Judiciary
Limited Applicability of Religious Law
The Court System and Structure
The General Court System
Special Courts
The Legal Profession
Official Statutory and Regulatory Sources
Sources in Hebrew
Sources in English
Unofficial Translation of Statutory and Regulatory Sources
Case Reports
Full Text
Digests and Indexes
English Translations
Digital Sources
Legal Commentaries
Law Journals
Selected Titles
Legal Databases
Online Legal Databases
Legal Data Bases on CD-ROMs
Useful Internet Sites

The Israeli Legal System — Introduction

The State of Israel is a western style modern democracy located in the Middle East in part on the land of the Bible, the traditional home of the Jewish people. The reborn modern state was established on May, 14, 1948, as a national home for the Jewish people. Statehood was recognized as a possible solution to the problem of homelessness following the massacre of million of Jews in the Holocaust in Europe.

Israel had held a parliamentary system since its establishment but underwent two major election reforms in recent years. Until 1996, the Prime Minister had been elected in direct and proportional general Parliamentary elections in which all 120 members of the Parliament (the Knesset) were elected based on political party lists. In 1992, the Knesset established a mixed system, by which it would coexist with an independently elected Prime Minister. The 1992 reform was implemented first in the 1996 elections. Three prime ministers were elected directly in accordance with this system. Of the first two, neither was able to complete a full term. The system of direct election for the prime minister has been blamed for the fragmentation of Israel’s parliament and its severe political instability. On March 7, 2001, the Basic Law: The Government was signed into law. The new law repealed the direct election of the prime minister and restored the general parliamentary election.

The President of the State is elected by the Knesset and acts as the head of state, mainly for ceremonial purposes.

For approximately four centuries, until the end of the first World War, the area now constituting Israel was part of the Ottoman Empire. During this period the law of the land was a mixture of traditional Islamic law and modern European laws (German, French and Swiss) adopted by the Ottomans mainly from the beginning of the last century. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire a British Mandate was established according to a resolution of the League of Nations. The Mandatory government retained the pre-existing law and gradually replaced it with legislation supplemented by English principles of common law and equity. While most areas of law have been Anglicized, the British kept intact the Ottoman system of family law which authorized religious courts of the different religious communities to administer their specific laws on members of these communities.

In 1948 the State of Israel was established as a Jewish and democratic state. Although pre-existing law was retained at first by the independent State of Israel, new legislation enacted by the Knesset, as well as decisions of the Supreme Court, have completely transformed the legal system into a modern and sophisticated system.

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Chief Characteristics of the System

The Absence of a Single-Document Written Constitution

The Israeli Declaration of Independence, issued on May 14, 1948, following the termination of the British mandate over Palestine, envisioned the existence of a future formal constitution for Israel. The declaration, however, has never been viewed as a constitutional document by itself. It was interpreted by the Supreme Court to be a document incorporating the wishes and the intent of the founding fathers of the reborn state. As such, it did not grant the judiciary the power of striking down legislation which clearly negates its content. However, if legislation may be interpreted in several ways, the Court holds that laws should be interpreted in a way consistent with the principles expressed in the Declaration. Utilizing the latter method, the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as a high court of justice, has managed to develop fundamental constitutional principles that in other Western democracies are protected by constitutions.

By virtue of the Harrari Resolution of 1950, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) agreed that the Israeli constitution contain separate chapters, each called a “basic law.” Eleven basic laws have been passed concerning: The Knesset, Israel Lands, the President of the State, the Government, the State Economy, the Army, Jerusalem Capital of Israel, the Judiciary, the State Comptroller, Human Dignity and Freedom, and Freedom of Occupation. Although there were different views regarding the constitutional status of separate basic laws, the accepted view prior to 1992 was that only the incorporation of all basic laws into a single-document constitution would result in a higher normative status. In a 1995 landmark case (Bank Hamizrahi Hameuchad Ltd. et al. v. Migdal Kfar Shitufi) Israel’s Supreme Court recognized that even before the completion of a single-document constitution two basic laws, Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation, were of a higher normative status.

Supremacy of the Law

Most areas of Israeli law are codified. Legislation in Israel does not supplement case law. On the contrary, it is the basis of the system. It not only regulates the problems it addresses, but also forms a source for the creation of new norms by way of analogy. Subject to the two 1992 basic laws discussed above, legislation passed by the Knesset holds the highest normative status.

Central Status for the Judiciary

The Israeli judiciary enjoys wide judicial discretion and judicial power to create case law. According to the principle of stare decisis as practiced in Israel, a rule laid down by a court will guide any lower court, and the Supreme Court is not bound by its own decisions. The Israeli courts do not use the jury system. All questions of fact and law are determined by the judge or the judges of the court concerned, and the system adheres to the principle of innocent until proven guilty. The Supreme Court, sitting as a high court of justice, enjoys a special status and influence.

Limited Applicability of Religious Law

Israel has left the preexisting law of family relations virtually untouched. Thus, religious law (Jewish, Moslem, Christian, etc.) applies as a source of law in matters relating to marriage and divorce, litigated before religious courts. Such application is subject to the law of the land and to the supervision of the Supreme Court.

The State of Israel is described in the Declaration of Independence as both a Jewish State and a democracy which will respect human rights. Although not manifested by full application of Jewish law, the Jewishness of the state nevertheless is manifested by certain legislation and case law. For example, the Law of Return, 1950, provides for the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel and acquire Israeli citizenship in accordance to the Nationality Law, 1952. In addition, Foundation of Law, 5740-1980 provides that if the court finds no answer to a legal question in statutory law, case law, or by analogy, it “shall decide it in the light of the principles of freedom, justice, equity and peace of Israel’s heritage.”

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The Court System and Structure

The Israeli court system is composed of a general court system and a number of specialized courts. The judiciary independence is guaranteed under Basic Law: Judicature.

The General Court System

The general court system is comprised of three instances: magistrates’ courts, district courts, and the Supreme Court. In addition to its role as the highest court of appeal, the Supreme Court sitting as a high court of justice has the authority to adjudicate administrative matters that are not subject to the jurisdiction of district courts sitting as courts for administrative matters. Special courts, such as the labor courts, military justice courts and religious courts have special jurisdiction in relevant restricted areas. Decisions of the appellate tribunals of these courts are subject to a limited review by the Supreme Court sitting as a high court of justice.

Geographically, jurisdiction is divided among five judicial districts: Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Beer-Sheva, and Nazareth. Magistrates’ and district courts have jurisdiction throughout their respective areas or districts where these courts sit. The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction extends over the whole country. Actions that do not fall within the jurisdiction of any of the geographical districts are heard in the District Court of Jerusalem.

The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem and had twelve judges. Starting January 1, 2004, the number of judges is expected to be increased to fifteen. It normally sits as a bench of three judges, except when the President or the Deputy-President directs a bigger bench, or in further hearings (on matters it has already adjudicated). Petitions for temporary orders and other interlocutory decisions and certain other proceedings are heard by one judge.

District courts have residual jurisdiction over all criminal and civil matters which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the magistrates’ courts, and general residual jurisdiction to hear any matter that is not under the exclusive jurisdiction of any other court or tribunal. A district court bench is composed of one judge in regular matters, and three in cases involving serious offenses or when specifically directed by the president or vice-president of the district court.

Magistrates’ courts have original jurisdiction in criminal matters over most offenses carrying a maximum punishment of seven years. The jurisdiction of magistrates’ court in civil matters generally depends upon the monetary value of the claim. Certain magistrates’ courts may be authorized by a decree to serve as special tribunals, such as a family court or juvenile court.

A magistrates’ court normally sits as a bench of one judge, except that the judge hearing the case or the president of the magistrates’ court may direct that the case be heard by three judges. A magistrates’ court may be authorized by the Minister of Justice to sit as a small claims court. A claim before the latter is always heard by a single judge.

Special Courts

Special courts include the labor courts, the traffic courts, the military courts, and the religious courts.

The Labor Court System

The Labor Court system consists of regional courts and the National court. A regional court has jurisdiction over matters concerning labor and employment relations, actions in tort concerning labor law, specific collective agreements, benefit funds, memberships in labor organizations, certain social security matters and labor-related offenses. The National Labor Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising from general collective agreements, disputes between labor organizations and appeals as of right on decisions of the regional courts.

The Military Courts

The Military Courts are geographically divided into six districts: North, Center, South, Air, Sea and General Headquarters. They consist of the District Court Martial, Naval Court Martial, Field Court Martial, Special Court Martial and Traffic Court Martial. The decisions of all the courts are subject to review by appeal to the Appeals Court Martial. Personal jurisdiction for the courts martial extends to all military personnel and prisoners of war. Substantive jurisdiction extends to all military offenses. In addition, there are Courts Martial in the Occupied Territories under orders of the Military Commander of the Territories and the Courts Martial under the Defense (Emergency) Regulations 1945.

The Religious Court System

The Religious Court system was established mainly by the Palestine Order-in-Council 1922-1947, sections 47, 51-56. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, specific laws were enacted for some of the recognized religious communities, including the Moslems, the Druze, the Jews and the Christian communities. The religious court system is financed by the State. The jurisdiction of the Rabbinical courts is restricted to matters of marriage and divorce concerning Jewish Israeli citizens or Jewish residents in Israel. In other personal matters, the Rabbinical courts can accept jurisdiction with consent of both parties. The jurisdiction for the Sharia (Moslem) courts is broader in scope in that it encompasses all personal status matters, not merely marriage and divorce. The Christian and the Druze religious courts have jurisdiction similar to that of the Rabbinical courts.

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The Legal Profession

The legal profession is composed primarily of lawyers and judges. To be able to practice law in the State of Israel, a person should be a member of the “Chamber of Advocates.” To be admitted, the person has to be an Israeli resident who reached the age of majority (instead of 23 years of age or older) and have graduated from a recognized Israeli university law school, another law institute recognized for this purpose by a special committee nominated by the Minister of Justice, or a recognized foreign law institution. The requirement for a high legal education may also be met if the person has been admitted to a foreign Bar and practiced abroad for at least two years. In addition, a candidate for membership at the Chamber of Advocates must have gone through a certain period of internship (currently 12 months), and pass the examinations of the Chamber.

Members of the “Chamber of Advocates” in good standing who practiced law as attorneys or as judges for at least fifteen years, or reached the age of sixty-five and have practiced for at least ten years, or immigrants who practiced at least ten years, two of which were in Israel, may be granted a notary license by a Licensing Committee. The latter is chaired by the Attorney General and composed of seven members appointed by the Minister of Justice and including two members who were recommended by the Chamber of Advocates, at least two representatives of the public and at least one a notary. A notary is authorized to draw up, authenticate, and certify official documents.

Judges of the general court system are required to be Israeli citizens, and members or qualified to be members of the Chamber of Advocates with a defined period of practice as lawyers, judges, jurists or professors of law: five years for a magistrates’ court judge, seven years practice or four years serving as a judge of the latter for a District Court judge, and ten years, five years of which as either a District Court judge or a law professor for a Supreme Court judge.

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Official Statutory and Regulatory Sources

Since its establishment, the State of Israel has developed an almost complete codification. The legislation has been issued gradually. In order to study particular areas of Israeli law, it is sometimes necessary to consult various enactments.

Sources in Hebrew

The Official Journal (Rashumot) is the main source for all legislative and administrative actions. It is published by Rashumot government printer in Jerusalem and includes the following ten parts:

  • Sefer Ha-Hukim [Book of Laws] 1949- (LC Call No. LAW ISRAEL 2 Primary Legislation)

  • Dine Medinat Yisrael, Nusah Hadash [Laws of the State of Israel (New version)] Jerusalem, Government Printing Office, 1954- . (LAW ISRAEL 2 Primary Legislation)
    The revised and updated Hebrew Text of Legislation Enacted Before the Establishment of the State

  • Hatsaot Chok [Bills]. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office. 1948- (LAW ISRAEL 8 Leg. Bills)

  • Kovets Hatakanot [Subsidiary Legislation]. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office. 1948-(LAW ISRAEL 2 1949-)

  • Kovets Hatakanot Hikuke Shilton Mekomi [Subsidiary Legislation of Local Administration] Jerusalem, Government Printing Office (LAW ISRAEL 2 [LL NEA-Ref])

  • Kovets Hatakanot: Shiure mekhes, mas keniyah ve- tashlum halvah [Subsidiary Legislation: Import Taxes and Others]. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office (LAW ISRAEL 2 Secondary Legislation)

  • Yalkut ha-pirsumim [Government Notices]. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office (LAW ISRAEL 4 Trademarks)

  • Yoman Simane Mischar [Trademark Journal] (LAW ISRAEL 4 Trademarks)

  • Yoman Hapatentim ve-hamidgamim [Journal of Patents and Designs] (LAW PER)

  • Kitvei- Amana [Treaty Series] [in Hebrew and relevant language]. (JX1015.I76A3)
    This official publication includes all treaties to which Israel is a party.

In addition, the government publishes

  • Divre Haknesset [Parliamentary Debates]. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office, 1948. (LAW ISRAEL 8 Knes)

Sources in English

Most primary laws are available in English, in authorized translations by the Ministry of Justice. They are published in:

  • Laws of the State of Israel. Authorized English translation of Israeli legislation. Jerusalem, Government Printing Office. (LAW ISRAEL 2 Primary Legislation)
    Includes most but not all laws and amendments. Latest volume published is 1986/87. v. 1- ; 1948-

  • Laws of the State of Israel (New version). An English edition of the revised text of pre-State legislation. Latest volume published is 1981. 3 v. (LAW ISRAEL 2 Primary Legislation)

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Unofficial Translation of Statutory and Regulatory Sources

  • Business Laws of Israel (KMK78.B87 I848 1997)
    One volume loose-leaf published in 1997 by Kluwer Law International and contains translations of laws on legal entities, commercial law, banking and financial services, labor law, contract, intellectual property, dispute settlement, fiscal and bankruptcy.

  • Labour Law (KMK1214 1989)
    The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs publishes new editions of a pamphlet every few years which includes various labor related legislation like the Collective Agreements Law, Employment Service, Hours of Work and Rest Law, etc.

  • Adam Teva V’Din (KMK1507.I85 1993)
    The Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the Union for Environmental Defense, published in 1993 a pamphlet containing translation of several environmental laws titled Israel’s Environmental Legislation.

  • A.G. (Aryeh Greenfield) Publications, Haifa
    Reliable translation of many laws and compilation of laws with amendments. New revised editions are periodically published.

    The following are some of the currently available translations: latest publication noted

    • Adoption of Children, 1998
    • Amutot (Nonprofit Societies) Law, 5740-1980, 1996
    • Auditing and Control 1997
    • Banking Legislation, 2002
    • Bills of Exchange ordinance (New Version)
    • Class Actions: Procedural Regulations and Law Provisions Excerpted from Specific Enactments, 1997
    • Commercial Wrongs Law, 1999
    • Companies Ordinance (New Version), 5743-1983
    • Computer Law, 5755-1995
    • Credit Information Services, 2002
    • Criminal Law Proceedings, 2002
    • Currency Control: Consolidated and up-to-date English translations
    • Electricity Sector Law, 5756-1966
    • Electronic Signature , 2001
    • Employers Tax Law, 5735-1975
    • Encouragement of Capital Investments Law, 5719-1959
    • Encouragement of Industry (Taxes) Law, 5729-1969
    • Entry, Residence and Citizenship
    • Execution Law 5727-1967 and Execution Regulations, 5740-1979
    • Family Court Law 5755-1995
    • Government Companies Law, 5735-1975
    • Haulage Services Law, 5757-1997
    • Income Tax Law: Inflationary Adjustments, ad hoc provisions, 5745-1985
    • Income Tax ordinance: A Consociated Translation Incorporating all Amendments to-1999
    • Income Tax Regulations, 2000
    • Inheritance Law and Regulations: 1998, 2001
    • Insurance Business (Control) Law, 5741-1981
    • Insurance Business (Control) Regulations, 1998
    • Israel’s Labor Laws
    • Israel’s Real Estate and Movable Property Laws
    • Israel’s Written constitution
    • Joint Investment Trust Regulations 2001/3rd ed. 2001
    • Land Appreciation Tax, 1995, 1997
    • Legal Evidence: the Evidence Ordinance (New Version) 5731-1971 and related primary and subsidiary Legislation, 2000
    • Mandatory Tenders
    • Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance (New Version) 5730-1970
    • National Health Insurance Law, 5754-1994
    • National Insurance Law (Consolidated Version), 5755-1995
    • National Laboratory Accreditation Authority Law, 5757-1997
    • Patients’ Rights Law, 5756-1996, 4th ed. Part 1 & 2 , August 2001
    • Penal Law, 5737-1997
    • Planning and Building Procedures Law, 5751-1990
    • Prevention of Sexual Harassment, 5758-1998
    • Professional Ethics, 2001
    • Prohibition of Money Laundering, 2002
    • Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981
    • Real Estate Agents, 2nd ed., Jan 2002
    • Regulation of Investment Counseling and Portfolio Management Law, 5755-1995
    • Restrictive Business Practices Law, 5748-1988
    • Rights of Plant Variety Breeders Law, 5733-1973
    • Securities Legislation, 5758-1998
    • Spouses (property relations) Law, 5733-1973
    • Surrogate Motherhood Agreements (approval of agreement and status of newborn law, 5756-1996
    • Taxes (Collection) Ordinance, published in 1994
    • Telecommunications Law, 5742-1982, 1998
    • Trade Levies Law, 5751-1991
    • Trade Marks and Merchandise Marks, 1994
    • Value Added Tax Law, 2002
    • Vehicle Insurance, 1977

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Major Compilations

There are two major compilations of Israeli legislation:

  1. Dinim [Laws] (1986- ). Ramat Ha-Sharon, Halakhot. 34v. (loose-leaf) (LAW ISRAEL 2 1986)
    Includes laws and regulations. Updated continually.

  2. Hachakika Bemedinat Yisrael [The Legislation in the State of Israel]. Jerusalem, Preisler, 1985 5v. (loose-leaf) (KMK14 1988)
    Preisler’s publications of legislation by title are also very useful.

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Case Reports

Full Text

Until 1999, the Israel Bar Association published the following:

  • Piske Din shel Bet Hamishpat Haelyon [Decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court]. Jerusalem, The Israeli Bar, 1948- (LAW ISRAEL 5 Decisions of the Supreme Court)

  • Pesakim Mehozyim [Decisions of the District Courts]. Tel Aviv, The Israeli Bar, 1948- (LAW ISRAEL 6 Bate)

  • Piske Din Avoda [Decisions of the Labor Courts] (LAW ISRAEL 6 Labor)
    Since 1999, Nevo Press LTD. is licensed to publish general and labor court decisions.

The Institute for Social Security publishes its tribunals’ decisions in

  • Piske Din Ha-Mosad Le-Bituah Le’umi [Decisions of Social Security Tribunals]. Jerusalem, The Institute for Social Security, 1966- (LAW ISRAEL 6 Insurance)

Similarly, the Rabbinical Courts also publish their decisions in:

  • Piske Din ha-Rabaniim
    This is a series of judgments of the Rabbinical courts which consider matters of personal status and adjudicates in accordance with Jewish law. Published by the Chief Rabbinate with participation of the Ministry of Religions. Some decisions of the military courts of Appeals are published in:
  • Piske Din Nivharim Shel Bet Hadin Hazvai L’irurim [Selected judgements of the Military Court of Appeals].
  • Selected judgments of the Military Court of Appeals.

Digests and Indexes

Two digests of court decisions are published:

  • Ikre Halakhot shel Bet ha-din ha-artsi la-avodah [Digest of Decisions of Labor Courts]. Tel Aviv, Lishkat orkhe ha-din, The Israeli Bar, 1989 (LAW ISRAEL 6 Labor 1989)

  • N. Savir. Taksir piske din Shel Bet Hamishpat Haelyon [Summaries of Decisions of the Supreme Court]. Jerusalem, La mishpetan, 1966- LAW ISRAEL 6 Savi

Indexes are available, e.g.:

  • Mafteach Inyanim Meugad [Subject Index]

English Translations

The Israeli Bar published the translation of a few selected decisions in English in:

  • Selected Judgments of the Supreme Court. (LAW ISRAEL 5. 1953- )
    Includes a few selected decisions that had great impact on the Israeli legal system and its constitutional law (Israeli Bar: Tel Aviv)

Digital Sources

Numerous relevant websites exist. In addition, there are various legal databases, online and on CD-ROMs. These legal databases are comprehensive and user-friendly. See further comments under “Legal Databases.”

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Legal Commentaries

For an introduction to Israeli law, the following works may be consulted:

  • The History of Law in Multi-Cultural Society, Israel 1917-1967. Edited by R. Harris, A. Kedar, P. Lahav & A. Likhovski (Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Co. Ltd., 2002). KMK120.H58 2002

  • Introduction to the Law of Israel. Edited by A. Shapira & K. DeWitt-Arar, Kluwer Law International, 1995 (KMK 68.I58 1995)

  • Y. Zemach, The Judiciary of Israel.The Institute of Judicial Training of Judges in Israel, 1988. (KMK3450.z46 1988)

  • The Law of Israel: General Surveys. Edited by I. Zamir & S. Colombo, Jerusalem, University of Haifa, 1995 (KMK 74.L39 1995)

  • Israel Among the Nations. Kluwer Law International, The Hague, The Netherlands, 1998 (KMK 746.i85 1998)

  • A. M. Rabello., ed. European Legal Traditions and Israel. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1994 (K623.29 E87 1994)

  • A.M. Rabello., ed. Essays on European Law and Israel. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1994 (K623.Z9E87 1994)

  • A. Bin-Nun. The Law of the State of Israel, An Introduction. Jerusalem, 1990 (LAW ISRAEL 7 Bin-N 1990)

For a comprehensive survey of bibliographic sources including primary and secondary sources of legal materials of Israeli law, Jewish law and Pre-State materials see:

  • E. Snyder. Israel: A Legal Research Guide. William S. Hein & Co., Buffalo, N.Y., 2000 (KMK47.S65 2000- )

Several treatises on particular areas of Israeli law are available in English; two of the best known are:

  • A. Kaplan. Israel Law and Business Guide. Kluwer Law and Taxation Publishers, Deventer, Boston, 1994 (KMK 78.B87K37 1994)

  • S. Shetreet. Justice in Israel: A Study of the Israeli Judiciary. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Netherlands, 1994 (KMK.3420.S54 1994)

For a general treatise on Jewish law, including a chapter specifically on “Jewish Law in the Legal System of the State of Israel see:

  • M. Elon et al. Jewish Law (Mishpat Ivri) Cases and Materials. (Matthew Bender, NY, 1999) (LAW GENERAL JEWI 1999)

Among the most important commentaries in Hebrew are:

  • A. Barak. Parshanut Bemishpat [Interpretation in Law]. Nevo, Jerusalem, 1992- (K295.H4 B37 1992)

  • A. Rubinstein. Hamishpat HaKonstitusioni Shel Medinat Yisrael. Constitutional Law of the State of Israel 5th ed., 1996 (KMK 1750.R8 1996)

  • M. Shavah, Hadin Haishi BeYisrael [Personal Status Law in Israel] 2 v. Israel, 1991 (KMK 511.S5 1991)

A legal dictionary is useful in conducting research. The following is recommended:

  • E. Shaked, A. Hacohen, Legal Dictionary: English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English, Steimatzky, Bnei-Brak, Israel, 1992. K52.H43S49 1992

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Law Journals

Selected Titles

Several law periodicals are published in Israel in Hebrew. Among the main ones are:

  • Hapraklit [The Attorney] Israeli Bar Association (K16.E68)

  • Mechkerei Mishpat [Law Studies] (Bar Ilan University Law Faculty) (K13.E33)

  • Mishpatim [Laws] (Hebrew University Law School, Jerusalem) (K13I77)

  • Iyune Mishpat [Studies at Law] (Tel-Aviv University Law School) (K9.Y9)

  • Mishpat Umimshal [Law and Government in Israel] (University of Haifa, Faculty of Law) (K13.I773)

  • Plilim -The Multidiciplinary Journal of Public Law, Society and Culture (The Buchamann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University) (K16.E45)

A number of legal journals are published in English. Among them:

  • Israel Law Review (LAW PER)

  • Israel Yearbook on Human Rights (LAW ISRAEL 8 1971-)

  • Tel Aviv University Studies in Law (K24.E4)

  • Israeli Reports to the International Congress of Comparative Law (LAW ISRAEL 8 1970)

  • Justice – a publication of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. (K10.U796)

  • Theoretical Inquiries in Law (The Buchamann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University) (K24.H43)


  • Mafteah Lekitvei Et Mishpatiim BeYisrael. Compiled by E. Snyder (KMK5.M34 1989-)
    This comprehensive and useful index covers the period beginning with 1982 and ending in 1990.

  • Various databases include increasing numbers of references to law review articles and offer user-friendly indexes.

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Legal Databases

Online Legal Databases

There is no one comprehensive Israeli database. Currently there are various legal databases available in Israel in the Hebrew language. Although similar, none has complete data and for completeness it may be advised at this time to subscribe to several of them, even if they include some parallel materials. All these databases are easy to use for those who are fluent in Hebrew. Knowledge or expertise in Israeli law will facilitate research and produce more direct results. The following is a list of the major CD-ROM products:

Three online legal databases are available for subscribers:

  • http://www.lawdata.co.il Offers full text of legislation, bills, court decisions, pleadings, legal news and legal forms.

  • http://www.nevo.co.il Nevo legal database is a comprehensive online legal database and is maintained by Nevo Press Ltd. which has exclusive distribution rights to publish the official text of court decisions. In addition to officially published court decisions, the database includes decisions not published officially, summaries and history of cases from first instance to appeal posted within one hour after delivered, full text of books (published by Nevo Press. Ltd.) and law periodicals. The database includes limited translations into English of decisions of the Supreme Court, published in Israel Law Reports. Subscription to the database also entitles the subscribers to a daily legal news brief summarizing newly passed bills and significant court decisions.

  • http://www.psakdin.co.il Offers legal information in response to specific inquiries, summaries of family courts decisions, legal news and an index for areas of law.

Legal Databases on CD-ROMs

Currently there are various legal databases available in Israel in the Hebrew language. Although similar, none has complete data and for completeness it may be advised at this time to subscribe to several of them, even if they include some parallel materials. All these databases are easy to use for those who are fluent in Hebrew. Knowledge or expertise in Israeli law will facilitate research and produce more direct results. The following is a list of the major CD-ROM products:

  • Takdin (Juridisc)
    CD-ROM product updated about three times a year, with a Takdinet online complimentary subscription to Takdin . The Takdinet will date back to the issue date of the latest CD ROM, and provide court decisions up to a week old, and legislation up to two weeks old. Takdin offers full text of legislation, decisions of the Supreme Court, district and circuit courts, family, military and labor courts, as well as abstracts of decisions from Savir (see under Digests and Indexes).Takdin is manufactured by C.D.I. Systems Ltd. (Jerusalem), [email protected] or [email protected].

  • PDOR, PDOR Bituach Unezikin (PDOR insurance and torts) and PDA-Or (legislation and court decisions in the area of labor law).
    In addition to legislation and civil and selected military court decisions, PDOR offers also decisions of the Israel Lands Administration Authority. Produced by the Israel Bar Association (Tel-Aviv) and updated three times a year, these products offer court decisions, laws and regulations, some law periodicals etc.

  • DINIM ve OD, AVODA ve OD, and MISIM ve OD are CD-ROM versions of sets of legislation and case law of labor and tax courts, published by Halachot, [email protected] Dinim Ve Od is updated four times a year and seems to currently provide court decisions dating back the earliest compared to other services. AVODA Ve Od is updated quarterly.

Useful Internet Sites

There are numerous websites with information on Israeli law. All Israeli government institutions and ministries maintain websites with relevant information on their services. Many addresses direct to English language sites in addition to Hebrew sites. Hebrew sites are usually more comprehensive than those in English. Among the sites with relevant law data are:

  • The Knesset (Parliament)
    Includes among others, information on the knesset, broadcasts from the Knesset, knesset agenda laws, statistical reports, coalition agreements, parliamentary and committees’ debates.
    The Knesset Institute for Research and Information posts research reports and other information on this site. The English site provides information on the Israeli government system, the text of the Proclamation of Independence and of Basic Laws.

  • The Judicial Authority
    This is the official web site of the court system. The site is constantly growing. The Hebrew site currently includes recent decisions of the Supreme Court district courts, labor, administrative and military courts. Search techniques are greatly improved. The English site includes general information about the judicial authority, appointment of judges and summaries of selected court decisions.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    The Law page includes the English text of basic laws, selected laws and legal issues and rulings.
    The site provides basic information about Israel and its people, comprehensive material on the Israeli government and its policies, legal analysis of the Israeli settlements under Israeli law, and special updates and documents related to the Peace Process and the Mitchell Committee Report.

  • The Israel Bar Association
    The English section contained profiles and objectives of the Israel Bar association, admission requirements to the bar, a list of courses for foreign lawyers
    and articles and opinions.

  • Haim Ravia, Law Offices: Legal Links
    An excellent site providing legal news and a useful list of links organized by subject of all relevant sites on Israeli law, business law, cyber law, intellectual property law etc. Constantly updated.

  • Levitan, Sharon & Co. Advocates and Notaries, www.israelinsurancelaw.com
    A useful site that contains English translation of insurance, companies and contract laws, summaries of recent relevant cases and articles.

  • Halachot – Publishing House
    Provides current report on legal news including interesting court decisions and other legal developments, as well as a list of links to various sites mentioned above, and to academic institutions in Israel.

  • Israel Democracy Institute
    The IDI is a non-profit organization designed to promote structural reforms, both political and economic. It constitutes a source of information and comparative research for use by the Knesset and government agencies, and serves as an educational entity for decision makers and the general public. Some of IDI publications are available on the web and are informative of current legislative action.

  • BTSELEM – Israel Center for Human Rights
    Provides information on human rights matters in Israel and the administered territories. Includes some translations of relevant court cases.

  • Guide to Law Online – Israel
    The Guide to Law Online prepared by the US Law Library of Congress is an annotated hypertext guide to internet sources on Israeli law and related information.


Although Lexis does not have the full text of Israeli legal sources, reference or analysis may be found in foreign law review periodicals. The News file is also useful for current materials, which then can be further checked.

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