President Reuven Rivlin .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
At a ceremony swearing of 18 new judges on Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin asked the Knesset to clarify the boundaries between the authority of the legislature and the judiciary.
While it is permitted to criticize judges, he said, he deplored the attacks which the court have been subjected by members of the Knesset and the public in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on March 27 striking down the natural gas deal.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor lambasted any attempt to exert political influence on the court, and said that in a democracy the legislature cannot tie the hands of the judiciary.
Despite the storm surrounding the Supreme Court’s ruling on the gas deal, she said, what was paramount was that judges deal with judicial rulings and not with censorship. This is not only part of judicial tradition she said, but is also indicative of the understanding of judicial ethics.
Judicial opinions, which in the past were regarded as limiting activity, have over the years become guidelines for cutting down on government bureaucracy, she said.
The court will continue to act as it has to date, she pledged, and expressed her hope that this will be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Of the 18 new judges, 11 are female and one is Arab. They were appointed to Labor, Magistrates, District and Traffic courts – mostly in Tel Aviv. Some of the Magistrates Court appointees were specifically appointed to the Family Court.
Rivlin recalled that when he had been a member of Knesset, he too had disagreed with a Supreme Court decision, and was labeled by many as an enemy of the court. But something sweet came out of the bitterness, he said, because the disagreement led to an in-depth discussion between Rivlin and justice Aharon Barak which touched on both the role of the Knesset as a legislative body and the limits to which it could go in criticizing the court.
Rivlin stressed how important it was for both the Knesset and the court to have the confidence and trust of the public.
National Labor Court President Yigal Plitman welcomed the four new Labor Court judges, saying: “The Labor Court is the haven for social justice and preserves the dignity of human beings while simultaneously settling labor disputes.”