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Israel has some "Basic Laws" that are considered to be a somewhat equivalent to a constitution.

In 1994 the Knesset enacted the Freedom of Occupation Basic Law, which states:

Every Israel national or resident has the right to engage in any occupation, profession or trade.1

My question is: what does this law try to prevent/solve? Was there an issue of people not being allowed to work in certain professions2? And if there was an issue, why was a higher ranking law (a Basic Law) needed?


1Now, there are some limitations that I guess allow for things like conscription and preventing people who are not licenced doctor to engage as doctors.

2Again, without considering sensible limitations like requiring proper formation for the job.

  • Whoever translated the name of that document did a poor job. I would have translated it "Freedom of Profession". Note that the term as seen in the title is even used on the Israeli Parliament's website. – dotancohen Nov 11 at 7:41
  • @dotancohen Internationally, the most common phrasing is "freedom to choose an occupation", which is often grouped together with the general "right to work" (as in Article 15 of the CFR, or Article 23 of the UDHR). – Uri Granta Nov 11 at 11:22
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It appears that the law wasn't prompted by specific issues but by a general desire to encode Israel's civil rights, previously protected only at common law, in constitutional legislation. This started in 1992, with the Human Dignity and Liberty Law and Freedom of Occupation Law. Freedom of Occupation had already been protected in common law by a 1949 Supreme Court ruling.

Note that at the time, Basic Laws weren't yet viewed as elevated over ordinary legislation. That happened only in 1995, following Bank Mizrahi v. The Minister of Finance, when Aharon Barak, the Supreme Court President, championed an activist interpretation of the new laws and their Limitation Clauses, which stated that

There shall be no violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required.

Note also that the original phrasing of the Freedom of Occupation Law was actually weakened in the final version due to concerns that it was overly restrictive, for example being incompatible with laws that banned the import of non-kosher meats into Israel.

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