Analysis: The politicians fight back

Friedman's appointment is a rejection of the legal system by the entire political class.

February 6, 2007 23:31
2 minute read.
jpost services and tools

jp.services1. (photo credit: )


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The appointment of the first Justice Minister who not only believes in shaking up the judicial system, but also has the necessary experience, intellectual capacity and credentials to do so, might have been made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but it represents a rejection of the legal system by the entire political class. Only a few years ago, calls to curtail the power of the Supreme Court came exclusively from the religious and right-wing parties. The approval on Tuesday from all sides of the political spectrum for Prof. Daniel Friedman's appointment promises that he will have little trouble securing parliamentary backing for drastic reforms. It took the indictment and conviction of one of their own, Haim Ramon, to push most of the MKs into the anti-Supreme Court camp, and there is now a clear majority for adjusting the balance of powers. Friedman, if his writings over the last few years are anything to go by, is in favor of totally overhauling the relationship between the judiciary, Knesset and government. The Justice Minister, of course, has no control over verdicts in the various courts, nor can he tell the attorney-general and state prosecutor when to press charges. He does, though, have the power to radically change the way the courts work. The minister allocates budgets and salaries, thereby determining the size of the courts. He can push through legislation altering their powers and even establish new levels of the judiciary. As chairman of the Judicial Appointments Committee, he has a pivotal role in deciding who will sit on the bench, especially if he succeeds in implementing his own recommendation to dilute the presence of Supreme Court justices on the committee. If former district court judge and director of the Courts Administration Boaz Okon, now estranged from the system, is appointed director-general at the Justice Ministry, Friedman will have the perfect administrator for carrying out his plans. As a veteran law school professor and former dean, Israel Prize laureate and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Friedman would have been expected to use his stature to defend the powers of the Supreme Court. Instead he has gone over to the other side, to try to realize the politicians long-standing dream of clipping the court's wings. He supports abolishing the power of the Supreme Court to cancel laws and to intervene in the government's policy, and favors establishing a separate court to deal with constitutional issues, a step that would significantly degrade the Supreme Court's stature. Not that Friedman believes that it's especially high right now. He has been quite open in the past about his opinion of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, whom he considers a legal lightweight and a vindictive, power-hungry individual. Friedman, though, has another, less well-known agenda. He might be a fierce critic of the Supreme Court, but in other ways, he is a classical liberal lefty. The religious politicians who are crowing this week over his selection might find they got more than they bargained for, when he announces plans for more constitutional legislation. Five months after her appointment, Beinisch is having to pay for the excesses of her predecessor. Aharon Barak, in his 11 years at the head of the court, led the heavy-handed activist line that so infuriated the politicians. Barak, the secular saint, beloved of the liberal classes and the media, could get away with it. Beinisch, though, is about to discover the limits of her power.

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town