Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, December 2, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against his right-wing voter base when he defended the Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) arrest of five Jewish teens in connection to an investigation into the death of a Palestinian mother Aysha Ravi in October.
But he skipped over any mention of the Jewish terror arrests nor did he condemn the October attack, in which Ravi was fatally injured in the head by a stone that was thrown at her car.
“I want to express my support for those who serve in all security forces, and particularly the men and women of the Shin Bet. They save lives day and night, and because of their service we and our children can sleep peacefully,” Netanyahu said.
Right-wing rabbis and settler leaders have gone on the offensive against the Shin Bet’s treatment of Jewish minors that it arrests; particularly the five teens that it took into custody over the past two weeks.
Netanyahu shot back on Tuesday, stating: “We must take care to avoid irresponsible attacks on those whose job it is to protect and defend Israel’s security from domestic and foreign threats. The Shin Bet is responsible for protecting the security of Israeli citizens, by law. I know the people of the Shin Bet and I know that the security of the State of Israel and its citizens is the only thing that guides them,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu spoke after President Reuven Rivlin earlier condemned the maligning of public servants and particularly the Shin Bet. Rivlin declared that care must be taken to avoid senseless attacks on those who defend the nation and its borders, conceding that there can be no democracy without criticism. It is thanks to the Shin Bet, he said that people in Israel can sleep soundly at night. Although he made no mention of them, Rivlin alluded to charges made by the families and supporters of the alleged Jewish terrorists, who are suspected of responsibility for Rabi’s death.
Rivlin said that all of Israel’s security forces, particularly the Shin Bet, have his backing.
The silent elephant in the room was Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s recent meeting with the families of the alleged terrorists.
Rivlin spoke at a swearing in ceremony for 29 new judges at the President’s Residence on Tuesday.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Shaked publicly thanked each other for the cooperation. Hayut noted that in the past year, the judicial appointments committee headed by Shaked appointed 100 new judges and court registrars, Shaked as well expressed her appreciation to both Hayut and her predecessor Miriam Naor, saying that despite their disputes they had worked well together. However, the tension between the two women was almost palpable.
It was impossible to ignore the satisfied tone in Hayut’s voice as she said these would be the final judicial appointments during the current Knesset.
Both Rivlin and Hayut emphasized the importance of judicial impartiality and the need to remain uninfluenced by public opinion. Hayut also spoke of judicial independence and maintaining the trust of the public, without fear or favor. The public expects its judges to be people of integrity, she said. “To be a judge is a way of life with a code of ethics that has to be observed not only in the court but outside of it as well.”
Shaked said that she had tried to restore pluralism to the judiciary. She said that pluralism is something one would expect in Israel, but noted how every time a minister of justice tried to introduce new concepts to the system, he or she was accused of fascism and the destruction of democracy.
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