Ayelet Shaked holds introductory press conference at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVICH)
Newly appointed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked came out swinging at her inauguration ceremony on Sunday, saying she would seek “a new balance” of power to rein in the Supreme Court from intervening in what she views as the domains of parliament and government.
Shaked, already mercilessly attacked in some media outlets for her views on that and other issues, tried to calm the waters and offered some rhetorical olive branches.
“It is with great excitement and anticipation that I begin my task as justice minister in charge of the judicial system that sanctifies law, truth, and peace,” she said during a special ceremony at the Justice Ministry.
“The justice system is a foundation of our existence as a democratic society, I will not be the one to soften its bite. “But I also will not allow it to eat away at the legal authority of the legislative and executive branches. We must find the formula for the right balance between the branches,” she added. The Supreme Court’s judicial review of legislation, and instances in recent years in which it has struck down new laws, have angered right-wing and religious parties.
Since entering the Knesset in 2013, Shaked, a 39-yearold former software engineer, has been a leading advocate of limiting the court’s jurisdiction from ruling on certain cases and giving politicians more power over selecting judges.
The new government’s one-seat majority and the opposition of Kulanu and President Reuven Rivlin to legislation seen as weakening the court (at least without parallel legislation recognizing its constitutional authority) could limit Shaked’s ability to affect sweeping changes, however.
Responding to the attacks on Shaked at an Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, State Attorney Shai Nitzan called them “mudslinging of the worst kind.” He took aim at a media outlet that said the Justice Ministry would be lowering its flags to half-mass to mourn her appointment.
The ministry “accepts every new justice minister” with open arms, he said.
Shaked also distanced herself from media attempts to dub the entire Justice Ministry deficient given the indictment earlier this month of former top Tel Aviv prosecutor Ruth David.
Nitzan hit those critics hard, as well, saying there is “no connection” between the charges in the indictment and her work as a Tel Aviv District Attorney, adding that he “rejected people attaching the stain” of her indictment to all of the prosecution and prosecutors because “there is not an iota of justification” for such views.
Indeed, the State Attorney complimented the state prosecution for indicting David “without any regard” or special treatment, despite her former high-ranking office and the inner turmoil many prosecutors felt in indicting one of their own.
Also noting prosecution successes in attacking local corruption including convictions of former mayors Zvi Bar (Ramat Gan), Shlomo Lahiani (Bat Yam), Shimon Gafsou (Upper Nazareth), Yitzhak Rochberger (Ramat Hasharon) and Uri Lupolianski (Jerusalem), as well as convictions of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Nitzan hinted that “there are more fruits” yet to catch in public service.