Netanyahu on justice minister controversy: Courts' decision obligate all

Supreme Court Chief Justice accuses Ohana of causing anarchy

June 13, 2019 22:42
2 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu – if they go to trial, how will his corruption trials end?

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu – if they go to trial, how will his corruption trials end?. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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"The decision of the courts obligate everyone," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, in a concise message that seemed to imply a different stance than his newly appointed Justice Minister Amir Ohana. 

The short message was posted by the prime minister on Twitter.
Earlier Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut unleashed an unprecedented counterattack on Ohana for his Wednesday night statement that in some circumstances he could disobey rulings of the Supreme Court, stating that his comments could throw Israel into anarchy.  

"It must be viewed severely that the justice minister of the State of Israel, on his inauguration day, related to us his unprecedented and irresponsible legal outlook according to which not every court decision must be respected.

“Every litigant can now, with the justice minister’s blessing, choose which judgments to uphold and which to not uphold," Hayut said. "I want to say only one thing about this… this is the short path away from anarchy.“ 

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit also piled onto the avalanche of condemnations of Ohana.

Mandelblit said that observing the decisions of the courts “is not optional, it is an obligation imposed on every citizen and every authority figure."

He said that only by observing court decisions could the rule of law be upheld.
On Wednesday, Ohana told Channel 12 that he is ready to disobey rulings by the High Court of Justice if they go against his view of what is necessary to keep Israel’s citizens safe.

In his first interview since he was appointed justice minister last week, Ohana also made controversial statements about the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said that he continues to support a bill to give Netanyahu immunity from prosecution while he remains in office, as well as a bill to circumvent the High Court’s ability to veto Knesset laws.

Furthermore, while he refused to criticize Mandelblit’s February 28 announcement of his likely intent to indict Netanyahu, he said that he stood by his previous statements, including that the attorney-general had been pressured by his prosecution team into going after Netanyahu against his better judgment.

Mandelblit struck back on Thursday, dismissing out of hand any implication that the prosecution staff has anything but professional considerations in mind when it makes decisions.

Earlier Thursday, former deputy chief justice Elyakim Rubinstein, known as a conservative, also condemned Ohana’s statements as potentially leading to anarchy.

The counterattack on Ohana was as unprecedented as Ohana’s attack itself.

During the era of Ohana’s predecessor, Ayelet Shaked, the sides sometimes duked it out in public over specific policy issues, but she never questioned the idea of obeying court decisions and never attacked the prosecution’s professionalism.

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