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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former Supreme Court Presidents Meir Shamgar and Aharon Barak met with Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann at his home in Ramat Aviv Tuesday in an attempt to ease the tensions between the justice minister and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch.
Since being appointed justice minister, Friedmann has initiated a series of moves aimed at weakening the power of the Supreme Court.
Matters reached a new low last week, when Beinisch wrote a stinging letter to him and made it public. Since his retirement last year, Barak has stayed out of the public eye. But, even though he and Shamgar refused to discuss their talk with Friedmann afterwards, it was is clear that both felt Friedmann was going too far and that the purpose of the meeting was to try to persuade him to restrain himself somewhat.
Last week, Beinisch lifted the veil of diplomacy that she has maintained and attacked Friedmann directly and bitterly.
"I regret that regarding this important institution, which is one of the cornerstones of Israel's democratic system and is under constant threat from those seeking to weaken it, that instead of coping with its needs and problems, you advance dangerous plans for reasons that have nothing to do with the good of the court," Beinisch wrote.
She was referring to a plan announced last week by Friedmann to change the system of appointing the presidents of all the courts, including the Supreme Court.
If Friedmann's proposal is implemented, a search committee will recommend candidates for the posts. The panel would consist of a retired judge recommended by the justice minister, who will head the committee, and two judges appointed by the presidents of the district courts and the magistrate's courts, respectively. The only court that would not have the right to appoint a representative to the committee would be the Supreme Court.
Friedmann announced his plan in public without first consulting Beinisch or the presidents of the lower courts. In an announcement to the press last Thursday, the justice minister said he had sent letters to all of the presidents asking for their opinion.